Category Archives: Maliki Fiqh

The Muwattā of Imām Mālik and the Saḥīḥs of Imām Bukhārī and Muslim

By Muhammad Iqbal

The people of ḥadīth have graded the books of ḥadīth and the overall majority have excluded the Muwattā of Imām Mālik from this genre in its entity.

Which are well known as the six rigorously authentic collections ṣiḥāḥ sittah, thus the general impression is that the Muwattā did not come up to the standards laid by the authors of these six works of ḥadīth.

Out of these six two carry the name ṣaḥīḥ meaning rigorously authentic of the highest grade of ḥadīth, the other four sunan works are of a lesser grade.

Thus, an exploration will be attempted to ascertain what standing did the authors of the two ṣaḥīḥs hold the Muwattā in. I have dispensed from referencing the names to the ṣaḥīḥ collections of Bukhārī and Muslim for these works are too well known.

Imām Bukhārī and his Saḥīḥ

Twenty-six are direct or indirect teachers of Imām Bukhārī who were students of Imām Mālik who were either well known or not well-known transmitters for their transmissions of the Muwattā. Imām Bukhārī transmits from them after having heard the Muwattā from these teachers who had taken the Muwattā directly from Imām Mālik. The status of the Muwaṯṯā becomes clear when these narrations were incorporated into his ṣaḥīḥ in total Imām Bukhārī has incorporated 688 narrations from Imām and his Muwattā.

A side note of interest is that Ismā‘īl ibn Ibrāhīm ibn al-Mughīrah ibn Bardizbah al-Ju‘fī al-Bukhārī the father of Imām Bukhārī was a direct transmitter of the Muwaṯṯā from Imām Mālik. [1]The following are the names and numbers of transmissions taken from his direct or indirect teachers from Imām Mālik and the Muwattā.

1. Ma’n bin Isā, 8 narrations from Mālik

2. Juwayiriyyah, 7 narrations from Mālik

3. Abd Allah bin Wahb, 6 narrations from Mālik

4. Abd al – Raḥmān bin Mahdī, 5 narrations from Mālik

5. Yaḥyā bin Sa’īd, 3 narrations from Mālik

6. Ismā’īl bin Jafar, 2 narrations from Mālik

7. Muḥammad bin Yaḥyā al – Kinānī, 1 narration from Mālik

8. Abd Allah bin al – Mubārak, 1 narration from Mālik

9. Sufyān, Bukhārī transmits 1 narration from Mālik

10. Abd Allah bin Yῡsuf al – Tanīsī, 287 narrations from Mālik.

11. Ismā’īl bin Aways, 163 narrations from Mālik.

12. Musallamah al – Qa’nabī, 109 narrations from Mālik.

13. Qutaybah bin Sa’īd 21 narrations from Mālik.

14. Yaḥyā bin Quza’h, 15 narrations from Mālik.

15. Abd al – Azīz bin Abd Allah, 8 narrations from Mālik.

16. Yaḥyā bin Abd Allah bin Bukayr, 6 narrations from Mālik.

17. Al – Faḍl bin Dakkīn, 5 narrations from Mālik.

18. Yaḥyā bin Yaḥyā 5 narrations from Mālik.

19. Al – Ḍaḥāk bin Mukhlad, 4 narrations from Mālik.

20. Rawḥ, 3 narrations from Mālik.

21. Is-ḥāq bin Muḥammad al – Farwī, 2 narrations from Mālik.

22. Abd Allah bin Abd al – Wahhāb, 1 narration from Mālik.

23. Sallam bin Qutaybah, 1 narration from Mālik.

24. Hishām bin Abd al – Malik, 1 narration from Mālik.

25. Abῡ Is-ḥāq Ibrāhīm bin Muḥammad bin Khārijah, 1 narration from Mālik.

26. Sa’īd bin Dāwῡd bin Abī Zanbar, 1 narration from Mālik. [2]

Imām Muslim and his Saḥīḥ

The ṣaḥīḥ of Imām Muslim is graded below the ṣaḥīḥ of Imām Bukhārī which is not a unanimous position.

The status of the Muwattā with Imām Muslim can be ascertained by how many of his teachers who were transmitters of the Muwattā and how many narrations he incorporated into his ṣāḥīḥ.

Imām Muslim had twenty-four teachers who were direct or indirect transmitters of the Muwattā from them he included 389 narrations into his ṣaḥīḥ. The number of narrations incorporated into the ṣaḥīḥ from the Muwattā clarify the standing with Imām Muslim.

The following list are the names of the transmitters of the Muwaṯṯā and how many narrations Imām Muslim incorporated from them into his ṣaḥīḥ.

1. Yaḥyā bin Yaḥyā bin Bukayr al – Nishaburī, Muslim transmitted 229 narrations through him from Imām Mālik.

2. Qutaybah bin Sa’īd, Muslim transmitted 47 narrations through him from Imām Mālik.

3. Abd Allah bin Muslamah al – Qa’nabī, Muslim transmitted 229 narrations through him from Imām Mālik.

4. Abd al – A’lā bin Ḥammād, Muslim transmitted 229 narrations through him from Imām Mālik.

5. Ismā’īl bin Aways, Muslim transmitted 2 narrations through him from Imām Mālik.

6. Sa’īd bin Manṣῡr bin Shu’bah, Muslim transmitted 2 narrations through him from Imām Mālik.

7. Yaḥyā bin Abī Umar, Muslim transmitted 1 narration through him from Imām Mālik.

8. Manṣῡr bin Abī Mazāḥam, Muslim transmitted 1 narration through him from Imām Mālik.

9. Suwayd bin Sa’īd, Muslim transmitted 1 narration through him from Imām Mālik.

10. Khalf bin Hishām, Muslim transmitted 1 narration through him from Imām Mālik.

11. Aḥmad bin Abῡ Bakr al – Zuhrī, Muslim transmitted 1 narration through him from Imām Mālik.

12. Abd Allah bin Wahb, Muslim transmitted 37 narrations through him from Imām Mālik.

13. Ma’n bin Isā, Muslim transmitted 15 narrations through him from Imām Mālik.

14. Is-ḥāq bin Isā, Muslim transmitted 8 narrations through him from Imām Mālik.

15. Juwariyyah, Muslim transmitted 7 narrations through him from Imām Mālik.

16. Abd al – Raḥmān bin Mahdī, Muslim transmitted 6 narrations through him from Imām Mālik.

17. Rawḥ, Muslim transmitted 3 narrations through him from Imām Mālik.

18. Abd Allah bin al – Mubārak, Muslim transmitted 2 narrations through him from Imām Mālik.

19. Abd Allah bin Nāfi’, Muslim transmitted 1 narration through him from Imām Mālik.

20. Abī Alī al – Ḥanfiy, Muslim transmitted 1 narration through him from Imām Mālik.

21. Bishr bin Umar, Muslim transmitted 1 narration through him from Imām Mālik.

22. Is-ḥāqbin Sulaymān al – Razī, Muslim transmitted 1 narration through him from Imām Mālik.

23. Khālid bin Mukhlad, Muslim transmitted 1 narrations through him from Imām Mālik.

24. Shu’abah, Muslim transmitted 1 narration through him from Imām Mālik.


The status of the Muwattā stands proven and it stands on its own above any of the six authentic books of Sunnī ḥadīth literature.

Both Imām Bukhārī and Muslim incorporated ḥadīth of the Muwattā in their ṣaḥīḥs. Fifty students of Imām Malik were direct or indirect teachers of Imām Bukhārī and Muslim from whom both incorporated one thousand and seventy-seven narrations in their respective works.

What this evidences and proves and should be accepted is that both Bukhārī and Muslim followed Imām Mālik in his uṣῡl al – ḥadīth and in ḥadīth criticism for otherwise why incorporate these ḥadīth?

The works of Bukhārī and Muslim are graded as the highest in Sunnī ḥadīth literature, the question which needs to be answered is, ‘what grade then are these one thousand and seventy-seven narrations and the work from where these narrations were taken from by Imām Bukhārī and Muslim?’

[1] Al – Rashīd al – Aṯṯār, Ḥāfīẓ Rashīd al – Dīn Abῡ al – Ḥusayn Yaḥyā bin Abd Allah bin Ᾱlī al – Qurshī 662 hijri. 1995. Mujrrat asmā al – ruwāt an Mālik. Maktabah al – Gurabā. Al – Athariyyah. Madinah Saudi Arabia. Number 89 p16.
[2] Article by Dr Muḥammad Sa’īd Muḥammad Ḥasan Bukhārī. Muwaṯṯā al-Imām Mālik wa I’timād al – Bukhārī wa Muslim alā nusakh maktῡbah minu fī al – ṣaḥīḥayn.
[3] Ibid.

Maliki School: The Timbukti Syllabus

The Timbukti syllabus is an old method of teaching; it was the exact method of teaching adopted by scholars in Medina before and after Imam Malik: A student reads before the scholar, just like children read to the teacher, and if he makes a mistake, the teacher corrects him. The teacher interprets and explains the sacred texts to the student. The order that is followed in teaching the series of books of jurisprudence (fiqh) — according to the Maliki school — differs from place to place and from one school to another. However, the most common order is as follows:

  1. Qawāʿid aṣ-Ṣalāh (or Kawaʿidi) is a treatise of about thirty pages by an unknown author. It concerns the principles of prayer and articles of faith.
  2. Mukhtaṣar al-Akhḍarī by Abū Zaid ʿAbdur-Raḥmān al-Akhḍarī, which is an introduction to Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) with emphasis on purification of the heart (taṣawwuf), ritual purity (tahārah) and prayer (ṣalāh).
  3. Al-ʿAshmāwiyyah by ʿAbd al-Bārī al-ʿAshmāwī ar-Rifāʿī, which is an introductory text that covers ritual purity (tahārah), prayer (ṣalāh) and fasting (ṣawm). It is studied alongside:
  4. Manẓūmah al-Qurṭubī fiʾl-ʿIbādāt by Yaḥyā al-Qurṭubī, which is another introductory text covering the five pillars of Islam: creed (ʿaqīdah), prayer (ṣalāh), fasting (ṣawm), alms (zakāh) and pilgrimage (ḥajj) to the holy sanctuary.
  5. Al-Muqaddimah al-ʿIzziyyah by Abul Ḥassan ʿAlī ash-Shādhilī is an intermediate text that concerns the jurisprudence of worship (ʿibādāt), commercial transactions (muʿāmalāt), as well as social ethics. It is studied alongside:
  6. Naẓmu Muqaddimah Ibn Rushd by ʿAbd ar-Raḥmān ar-Rāfiʿī, which is an intermediate text that adds to Manẓūmah al-Qurṭubī.It explains the jurisprudence concerning the five pillars of Islam in detail.
  7. Al-Risālah by Abū Muḥammad ʿAbdullāh ibn Abī Zayd al-Qayrawānī is another intermediate text in the school. The first half is on worship (ʿibādāt), the second concerns aspects of jurisprudence such as marriage (nikāḥ), divorce (ṭalāq), commercial transactions (muʿāmalāt), inheritance (mīrāth), punishments (ḥudūd) and social ethics. This text has the distinction of being continuously taught for over a thousand years—the only fiqh text to have reached us with tawātur (mass-transmission). One unique feature is that the author often uses prophetic traditions (ahādīth) to construct the wording of the text.
  8. Al-Murshid al-Muʿīn by Ibn ‘Āshir, which is an extensive text, categorised into three sciences: Ashʿarī Theology (ʿaqīdah), Maliki Jurisprudence (fiqh) and Spirituality (taṣawwuf) based on the spiritual path of Imam Junaid al-Baghdādī.
  9. Miṣbāh al-Sālik by ʿAbd al-Waṣīf Muḥammad is one of the first advanced books of the Maliki school that is studied before studying later advanced works. This book covers theology, all chapters of jurisprudence (worship, marriage, transactions, commerce, judicial law etc.), and social ethics (akhlāq).
  10. Aqrab al-Masālik by Aḥmad bin Muḥammad bin Aḥmad ad-Dardīr is an advance text that is an abridgement of al-Khalil’sMukhtaṣar. The author leaves out the differences of opinion, and clarifies some difficult passages from Mukhtaṣar.
  11. Mukhtaṣar Khalīl by Khalīl ibn Isḥāq al-Jundī is the last advance text that is covered by the students of the Maliki school. It concerns the differences of opinion among major authorities within the school. It has an unrivalled position in the later Maliki school and is the relied upon and mufta bihi text today.


Hausa Women in the Twentieth Century, edited by Catherine M. Coles, Beverly Mack
Maliki Law: The Predominant Muslim Law in Nigeria, by Barr. Abdullahi Ghazali

Imam Malik (Rahmatullah Alayh)’s View on the ‘Amal of the People of Madinah

Imaam Maalik considered the ‘Amal of the people of Madinah as a primary source and he relied upon it for his futaawaa (legal judgements). Thus in the Muwatta, Imaam Maalik says quite often after mentioning reports and hadiths, “The matter is unanimously agreed upon by us” or he would mention a chain of authorities upon whom he relied heavily when there wasn’t a transmitted hadith.  It has been expressed in his letter to al-Layth bin Sa’d which demonstrated his great reliance upon them as well as his disapproval of those who followed other than their way. An example of Imaams Maalik’s disapproval of other ways comes at the very beginning of this letter. It reads as follows:

“From Maalik bin Anas to al-Layth bin Sa’d as-Salaamu alaykum:

I praise before you Allah other than Whom there is no god.  After this, may Allah grant us and you protection by means of obedience to Him secretly and openly.

May He grant us and you full pardon from every unacceptable thing. Know, may Allah have mercy on you, that it has reached me that you al-Layth ibn Sa’d, are giving fatwas to the people with things which are inconsistent with what is agreed upon by those of us (the fuquhaa of Madinah) and (the people) of our city.

You – by virtue of your trustworthiness, your excellence and your rank among the people of your city, and the dependency of those around you upon you and the reliance of them upon what comes to them from you – should in reality have fear for yourself and you should follow that which by following it you hope to be safe. For Allah, the Most High has said in His Book:

‘The forerunners, the first of the Muhaajiruun and the Ansaar and those who followed them in the performance of good deeds, Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him. He has made ready for them gardens with rivers flowing beneath them, timelessly forever without end.  That is the great victory.’  9:101

And the Most High has said,

‘So give glad tidings to the slave who listen to the speech and follows that which is best…   39:17-18

Therefore the other people must follow the people of Madinah. To it the Hijrah was made and in it the Qur’an was revealed, the lawful was declared lawful and the unlawful was declared unlawful while the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم was in their midst and they were in the presence of revelation to the Messenger Of Allah  صلى الله عليه وسلم and the act of revelation itself.  He صلى الله عليه وسلم gave them commands and they obeyed him. He صلى الله عليه وسلم established the Sunnah for them and they followed him until Allah brought his life to an end and chose for him the reward of His Presence. The Prays of Allah be upon him and His Peace, His Mercy and His Blessings.

Then after him صلى الله عليه وسلم, those people from his ummah who obeyed him, rose up and assume authority by means of that which had been sent down to them. Whatever they knew, they acted by. Whatever they didn’t have knowledge of, they asked questions concerning it. Then they adopted that which they found to be the strongest position. As a result of their ijtihaad and their direct knowledge of the matter through experience, memory or proximity.  If there were those who held a different opinion or people expressed other opinions which were stronger or more worthy to be followed, they would set their own opinions aside, and follow and practice the others’ opinion.  Then the Tabi’uun came after them following that same path.  They followed that Sunnah.

Therefore, if a matter in Madinah is clearly practiced, I am not of the opinion that anyone has the right to go contrary to it because of the legacy which they (the people of Madinah) possess.  They (The other people) are  not allowed to assume this or presume this.  If the people of the (other) cities begin saying, ‘This is the ‘Amal which is in our city and this is what was done in it by those who passed from   among us, they wouldn’t have certainty about that nor would that be permissible for them to claim.  Therefore, be careful.  May Allah have mercy upon you in this matter that I have written to you about.

Know that it is my hope that I have not been called to write this to you except out of the desire to give sincere counsel for sake of Allah glory be to Him.  I continue to hold you in the highest regard and to have the best thoughts about you.  Therefore give this letter of mine to you the closeness to your heart which it deserves.  If you do this, you will know that I have spared no efforts in giving you sincere advice.  May Allah give us and you the success to be able to obey Him and to obey His Prophet in every matter and in every circumstance, and peace be upon and the mercy of Allah and His blessings.”

In this statement Imaam Maalik  makes it clear that he believes it is unsound for the rest of the people in the other regions to differ with the ʿAmal of the people Madinah and in fact the other should follow ʿAmal.  Then, he further clarifies what he means after that with proof which defends his position and this way which he follows.  The basis of this proof is that the fact that the Qur’an which contains the Laws (was revealed in Madinah) and the Fiqh of Islam was revealed in Madinah and its people were the first of those who turn towards the precepts of the Diin and to be addressed about command and prohibition. They obeyed Allah’s command. They stood as pillars of the Diin. Then after the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthmaan assumed leadership over them and the people of the Prophet’s Ummah obeyed them and carried out his Sunnah صلى الله عليه وسلم after aspiring it and studying it from the very beginning.  Then after them came the Tabi’uun following the same path and following that (same) Sunnah.  It is by this that Madinah became the inheritor of the knowledge of the Sunnah.  The fiqh of Islam was strictly adhered to by the Tabiʿu Tabiʿiin.  It is that strict adherence which in Imaam Maalik’s view which does not allow for anyone else (from the other regions) to differ with it because of the inheritance with which the People of Madinah had been entrusted and because none of the other Muslims could to claim this about their city nor presume this about themselves.

This is Imaam Maalik’s proof about the matter which he advances in support of the ʿAmal of the Madinah and at times he use to place the ‘Amal of people of Madinah above the hadith.  Thus the reason that he usually mentions why he held such a view was that this ‘Amal which is practiced in Madinah is based on well known transmitted Sunnah and the well known Sunnah is placed above transmitted hadith.

It is obvious that Imaam Maalik  was not the first to hold this view however.  We have seen the opinion of Rabii’ah his Shaykh whose opinion has been mention above: “a thousand from a thousand is better than one from one.”

Imaam Maalik  said, “Men from the people of knowledge and the Tabi’iin have related the hadiths and we are not unaware of this, but the ‘Amal is passed on in a different way.  He said I saw Muhammad bin Abi Bakr ‘Amr bin Hazm who was a judge and his brother who knew many Ḥadith and who was a man of truth.  I heard ‘Abdullaah when Muhammad gave a judgment in the case, mention a Ḥadith which was at variance with the judgment while reproaching him.  ʿAbdullaah said to him, “Did this not come in such and such hadith?”  Muhammad said, “Certainly!  Then ‘Abdullaah said, “Why didn’t you take into account when you passed judgment?”  Muhammad then said, “Where are the people (that is to say: What is the opinion of the people of knowledge) in regards to the matter?”  What he meant is that the practice in Madinah did not agree with it.  The ‘Amal is stronger.”

As previously stated, it can be seen that Imaam Maalik   did not introduce this position (that the ‘Amal is stronger than the hadith) but rather, he was following a path that had been trodden by others before him from among the Tabi’uun and the people of knowledge.  However, this view became well known through him because it was a position taken by him in the deliverance of (his) formal legal opinions and because some of what he gave as legal opinions has been recorded as being at variance with the reported Ḥadith which he had transmitted. It was in the successive Islamic ages which followed his, that he became more well known than those from whom he took it. Thus the position became ascribed to him however he was a follower of it and not its originator.