Abdullah, Malik bin Anas ibn Malik ibn Abi Aanir ibn Amr ibn Haris, was born in
Medina in the year 94 H (715 AD). His ancestral home was in Yemen, but his
grandfather settled in Medina after embracing Islam. He received his education
in Medina, which was the most important seat of Islamic learning, and where the
immediate descendants of the Companions of the Holy Prophet lived. Imam Malik
was highly attracted to the study of law, and devoted his entire interest to the
study of Fiqh. It is said that he sought out over three hundred Sahabah (those
who saw the Companions of the Holy Prophet). From them he acquired the knowledge
of the Holy Prophet's sayings, Hadith, (plural Ahadith) - and the Holy Prophet's
Deeds, - Sunnah. Imam Malik studied Fiqh under the guidance of nearly one
hundred learned teachers who were residing in the city of the Prophet at the
time. Among Imam Malik's writings is the great work entitled Kitab-al-Muwatta,
which is the earliest surviving book of Islamic law and Hadith. It quotes
Sayings as well as the practices according to the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet as
observed by Muslims in Medina.
Although Imam Malik wrote many treatises dealing with religion and ethics,
Kitab-al-Muwatta is acknowledged as the most important among his writings. It is
said that Imam Malik had originally recorded ten thousand Ahadith in this book,
but in a revised edition the Imam reduced the number to only one hundred and
seventy-two. Imam Malik was famous for his piety and integrity and courageously
stood up, and was prepared to suffer, for his convictions. Imam Malik continued
to serve the noble cause of education for 62 years. He died on 11th Rabi’ul
Awwal 179. A.H, (795 AD) at the age of 86.
The high reputation of Imam Malik as a scholar and teacher attracted people from
the four corners of the Islamic Empire. Perhaps no other teacher ever produced
such talented scholars who ascended the pinnacle of glory in different walks of
life. Among the persons who benefited from his learning were Caliphs like
Mansur, Medhi, Harun and Mamun; jurist like Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Shafi, Sufian
Suri and Qazi Muhammad Yusuf; scholars like Ibn Shahab Zahri and Yahya bin Saeed
Ansari; mystics like Ibrahim bin Adham, Zunnun Misri and Muhammad bin Fazil bin
Abbas. According to reliable historical sources, the number of his students who
acquired great name in life was more than 1,300. His classes were characterised
by their serenity, discipline and by a high sense of respect exhibited by the
students for their learned teacher. He never tolerated any indiscipline when he
lectured on the Traditions of the Prophet (sws). Once, the Abbaside Caliph,
Mansur who was discussing certain traditions with the Imam spoke a bit loudly.
The Imam rebuked him by saying, ‘Don’t talk stridently when the Traditions of
the Prophet (sws) are under discussion.’ He refused to discourse on the
Traditions in the camp of the Caliph. (Hundred Great Muslims).
The Imam behind him more than a dozen works including his famous Muwatta. His
treatises deal with religious and ethical matters and Islamic jurisprudence. The
reliability of the reports and reporters was his chief consideration and he took
pains to ensure that no incorrect report should find place in his book. This
book has been translated into several languages.
He occupies a unique place in the galaxy of talented scholars like Imam Bukhari
and Imam Muslim who are well-known for collecting the Traditions of the Holy
Prophet (sws) of Islam. He is said to have always avoided the company of a
person who was not highly learned. According of Imam Hanbal, he was the only
person to have such a distinction that he never reported a Tradition from a
person unless he had fully satisfied himself. He was held in such high esteem by
the later scholars that once someone enquired from Imam Hanbal about a certain
reporter. He replied that the reporter must be reliable because Imam Malik had
reported from him. Imam Malik experienced great hardship in quest for knowledge.
Like Imam Bukhari, who had once to live on herbs and roots for three days, he
too, had to sell the beams of his house in order to pay his education dues. He
used to say that one cannot attain the heights of intellectual glory, unless
faced with poverty. Poverty is the real test of man; it awakens in him the
hidden energies and enables him to surmount all difficulties.
His contemporaries and later Traditionalists and religious scholars have formed
a very high opinion about his intellectual attainments. According to Abdur
Rahman ibn Mahdi, there is no Traditionalist great than Imam Malik in the world.
Imams Ahmad bin Hanbal and Shafi speak very highly of him as a traditionalist.
The learned Imam was also a great jurist; for more than 60 years he gave Fatwas
Imam Malik was known for his integrity and piety. He always lived up to his
convictions. Neither fear nor favor could ever deflect him from the right path.
He was among the members of the glorious society of early Islam who could not be
purchased and whose undaunted courage always proved as a guiding star for the
Jamil Ahmad in his book Hundred Great Muslims writes: When he was aged
twenty-five, the Caliphate passed into the hands of the Abbasids caliph Mansur
who was his colleague. Mansur highly respected him for his deep learning. The
Imam however, favored the Fatimid Nafs Zakriya for the exalted office of the
Caliph. When he learned that the people had taken the oath of fealty of Mansur,
he said that since Mansur had forced people to do so, the oath was not binding
them. He quoted a Tradition of the Prophet (sws) to the effect that a divorce by
force is not legal. When Jafar, a cousin of Mansur, was posted as Governor of
Medina, he induced the inhabitants of the Holy city to renew their oath of
allegiance to Mansur. The Governor forbade him not to publicize his Fatwa in
respect of forced divorce. Highly principled and fearless as he was, the defied
the Governor’s orders and courageously persisted in his course. This infuriated
the Governor, who ordered that the Imam be awarded 70 stripes, as punishment.
According, seventy stripes were inflicted on the naked back of the Imam which
began to bleed. Mounted on a camel in his bloodstained clothes, he was paraded
through the streets of Medina. This brutality of the Governor failed to cow down
or unnerve the noble Imam. Caliph Mansur, when apprised of he matter, punished
the Governor and apologized to the Imam.
Once, Caliph Mansur sent him three thousand Dinars as his traveling expenses of
Baghdad, but he returned the money and refused to leave Medina, the resting
place of the Prophet (sws).
In 174 A.H Caliph Harun-ar-Rashid, arrived in Medina with his two son Amin and
Mamun. He summoned Imam Malik to His place for delivering a lecture on Mutate.
The Imam refused to comply with his orders. He wrote to him:’ Rashid! Traditions
in a learning cultivated and patronized by your ancestors, if you don’t pay it
due respect, no one else would,’ This argument convinced the Caliph, who, along
with his two sow, then chose to attend the class taken by the Imam.
The Imam was reputed throughout the world of Islam for his self-control and
great patience. Once a band of Kharijis armed with swords forced their way into
a mosque of Kufa, where he was praying, All persons scampered away from the
mosque in panic but he stayed there undismayed. It was customary with all those
who waited on Caliph Mansur in his palace to kiss his hands but Imam Malik never
did so. On the other hand, he paid highest regards to the learned people and
once, when Imam Abu Hanifa came to see him, he offered him his own seat.
Ibu Muslim Al Khuzai wrote that: When Imam Malik would intend to read, write or
give class on Hadith, he would first make abulation (Wudu), would put on his
best clothes, would then wear perfume, and would come his beard. When asked for
the reason for doing so, he replied: This is for reverence to the Hadith of the
Prophet of God. Whenever he would mention the name of the Prophet, the color of
his face would change. When asked, he said that if you could see what I see you
would not ask me this question.
Ibn Khallikan wrote that: Inspite of his old age and weakness, he would never
ride in Medina He used to say, I would never ride in a city where the Prophet is
Muslims inhabiting Western Arabia, exclusively subscribe to the Maliki sect.
Imam Malik's followers and disciples developed a Fiqh school based on his books
which came to be known as the Maliki Madhhab. Malikis are mostly found in North
and West Africa, - Tunis, Algeria, Morocco and Egypt.
Muslims community enjoys the privilege of documenting with great care and with
great zeal, the sayings, doings and the life of Prophet Mohammad known as
Ahadith or the traditions, from the very first century Hijri.
Muslims consider Hadith to be essential supplements to and clarifications of the
Quran, Islam’s holy book.
In the matter of what is called Fiqh, or Islamic jurisprudence, the Quran
contains many rules for the behavior expected of Muslims. However, there are
many matters of concern, both religious and practical, on which there are no
specific Quranic rules. Muslims believe that they can look at the way of life,
or Sunnah, of Mohammad and his companions to discover what to imitate and what
In the matter of what is called Tafsir, or exposition of the meaning of the
Quran, Muslim scholars believe that it is useful to know how Mohammad and his
companions explained the revelations, or upon what occasions Mohammad received
them. Sometimes this will clarify a passage that otherwise seems obscure.
Hadith is the source for Islamic history and biography.
For the vast majority of devout Muslims, authentic Hadith is also a source of
The first three centuries witnessed an extreme level of efforts on the part of
the companions (Sahaba), and those who came after them in making sure that the
science Ahadith is well documented. These people not only sacrifice their time
and money but, they dedicated and their entire life for this sake. They traveled
to the distant corners of the world in order to collect and then to spread this
important branch of Islamic knowledge. In many instances, a person would travel
to a far and distant country to learn one single Hadith.
The distinction of Medina as a leader in the field on Hadith:
In every city that the early Muslims went they carried the knowledge of Hadith
with them. Some cities became more famous than other cities in this respect due
to the number of the companions and the scholars that chose to live in a city.
Medina got its full share of knowledge of Hadith right from the very beginning.
The reason for this was that the companions were residing in large numbers in
this city from the very beginning. Not only that the knowledge of Hadith
prospered in this city, but it spread all over the world from this city and its
people. Medina became the main place where the scholars of Hadith (Muhadditheen
) and Jurists (Fuqaha) could be found in great numbers. A testimony of this is
the saying of Imam Malik, when he said: I gave my book (Muatta) to over seventy
high ranking Jurists ( Fuqaha) of Medina for review. When Imam Malik was growing
up in Medina, it was the when there a great need for the compilation and
collection of Ahadith in books.
The process of collecting and compiling Hadith started in Medina much before it
started in any other city. Imam Mohammad bin Shahab Az Zuhri Al Madani ( d. 124
H. ) who also was one of the teacher of Imam Malik, was one of the first
compiler of Hadith. Among other early compiler of Hadith in Medina were Musa bin
Uqba Al Madani ( d. 141 H), Mohammad bin Ishaq Al Mutallibi Al Madani ( d. 151 H
) and Ibn Abi Zi’b Mohammad bin Abdul Rahman Al Madani (d. 158 H).
During the life time of the above mentioned scholars of Hadith, this knowledge
has not only reached Makkah, Kufa, Basra and Khurasan but there were scholars
who were busy in compilation of Hadith in their respective cities. But the
distinction of being the first to compile Hadith belongs to the scholars of
Medina. The book of Imam Malik, known as Muatta is among those early collection
of Hadith. There is no doubt that Al Muatta is the first book of Hadith which
was written according to the chapters of Fiqh as mentioned by Al Kuttani in his
book Al Risalah.
Why did Imam Malik compiled Muatta:
The reason for the compilation of Al Muatta, as stated by the scholars in
various books, is that the caliph of the Abbasy dynasty, Abu Jaffar Al
Mansur-Abdullah bin Muhammad- (born: 95 H.-d 158 H) during one of his many
visits for Hajj invited Imam Malik. Their meeting was dominated by a long
scholarly conversation about Fiqh and Hadith. During this conversation Abu
Mansur asked many questions pertaining to Hadith. He was amazed to hear the
in-depth answers from Imam Malik. He was extremely impressed by the amount of
knowledge and the deep understanding of various branches of Islam that Imam
Abu Jaffar, then said to Imam Malik: You should write a book about Islamic Law
and I promise that I will make your book the law of the land and I will impose
your book on my people. But Imam Malik disliked the idea.. He told Abu Jaffar in
clear terms. Nevertheless, Abu Jaffar insisted that he still should write a book
and stated that: Today there is no one more knowledgeable than you. Imam Malik
started writing Al Muatta but before he could finish, Abu Jaffar died.
Ibn Khallidun writes in his Muqammah: Abu Jaffar had a very esteem place in
knowledge among the scholars before and after the Khiafat. He was the person who
insisted upon Imam Malik to write Al Muatta. He once said, O Abu Abdullah, today
there is no one more knowledgeable on the face on this earth than you and me.
The demands of Khiafat leave me with no time to do any scholarly work. You
should write a book that could benefit people. In your book you should avoid the
and concessions (Rukhas) of ibn Abbas, sternness (Shadaid) of ibn Umar and the
peculiarities (Shawwaz) of ibn Maud. Make your book easy for people to follow.
Malik said: that day Abu Jaffar taught me the right way of writing.
Malik compiled his book on the same pattern. The word Muatta means: easy and
soft or "the well-trodden path".
Before Imam Malik wrote Al Muatta, Imam ibn Abi Ziab who was a contemporary
scholar of high ranking and who belonged to Medina also wrote a book and named
it Al Muatta which was much thicker than the Muatta of Imam Malik. It was asked
from Imam Malik as to what is the use of writing his book when one is already
present? He replied: Only that book will remain which is written for the
pleasure of Allah.( Al Risala)
Imam Jalauddin Al Suyuti writes in Tanweer ul Hawali: that Qazi Abu Bake ibn
Arabi in Sharh Al Tirmizi had written that: Al Muatta is the first book in the
series of authentic books of Hadith, and Shahih ul Bukhari is the second book of
this series. The books of Muslim and Tirmizi are derived from these two sources.
Ibn Al Hayyab writes: Malik narrated over one hundred thousand Ahadith. He
picked only ten thousand of them for his book Al Muatta He then critically
examined them in the light of Quran and Sunnah and the traditions of Sahabah and
finally short listed them to only five hundred Ahadith for his book.
Abul Hassan bin Fahar narrated from Ateeq bin Yaqoob who said that Imam Malik
mentioned approximately ten thousand Hadith in his book Muatta. But he kept
reviewing and deleting them till he left the amount of Hadith that you find now
in Al Muatta.
Ibn Abdul Barr narrates from Awaozaie that we read Al Muatta to Imam Malik in
forty days. Malik said: it took me forty years to compile this book and you
learned it in forty days. You should devote more time in learning this book
because the less time you devote to this book the less you would learn from this
Imam Malik said: I presented by book for review to more than seventy Jurists (Fuqaha)
of Medina. I found that every one was in total agreement with what I had
compiled; there fore I named this book Al Muatta.
Ibn Fahr says: No one used this name for his book before Malik. During that time
those who compiled books on Hadith named their books either Al Jame, or Al
Musannaf or Al Muallaf.
Ibn Fahar narrates that Imam Shafie said: There is no other book on the face of
the earth after the book of Allah that is more authentic than the book of Malik.
Another narration from Imam Shafie says that no book other than the book of
Malik comes closer in authenticity to the Quran. Another narration says: After
the book of Allah there is no book more beneficial than Al Muatta. And Al Hafiz
Mughlataie said: The first person to compile Al Sahih is Malik.
Since it is an accepted fact that now that Shahih Bukhari is the most authentic
book of Hadith,the comment made by Imam Shafie could cause some confusion in the
minds of some.
The answer to this is given by Imam Sakhawi and Imam Suyuti when they wrote that
the comment of Shafie was made before the books of Al Bukhari and Muslim came
into existence. Ibn Hajar wrote that we must understand that when Al Shafie made
those comments he was comparing Al Muatta with the books that were present
during his time, like Jamie Sufyan, Musannaf Hammad bin Salmah and other such
books. Thus this estimation is understandable and there should not be any
confusion in this regard.
The reasons for the superiority of Al Muatta
1. One reason for the high status of Al Muatta is that this book is compiled by
a person who was one of the greatest Imam, a Faqih and a Mujtahid of the
earliest time and of the highest esteem. His contemporary scholars and those who
came after him accepted him as the Imam of the highest quality in Hadith and
Fiqh. And it is an accepted fact that the books of Hadith that are compiled by
those Imams who are not only Muhaddithin but are also Fuqaha of high standard
are higher in standard than those books that are compiled by those Imams who are
only Muhaddithin but do not enjoy a higher understanding in Fiqh. As Ali ibn Al
Madini said: To me that Hadith is of more value me which is narrated by Fuqaha
from those that is narrated by others.
In his book Minhaj us Sunnah Imam ibn Taymiyya quoted Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal
that: Understanding the meanings and the Fiqh of Hadith is greater in values
than simply memorizing it.
Ali ibn Al Madini said: The noblest of knowledge is acquiring Fiqh of Hadith.
2. Since this book came into existence, the scholars over the centuries have
held this book in great veneration and praise. As Imam Shafie remarked that:
After the book of Allah, there is no other book on the face of this earth more
authentic than Al Muatta.
3. As this book was written in the middle of the second century Hijri, it is
considered to be among the earliest books written in Islam. And when we look at
this book from the perspective of the style of Fiqh that was adopted in this
book, there remains no doubt that this is the very first book which invented the
style of Fiqh chapters in the book of Hadith. Those who came after him emulated
and imitated this style. For example: Ibn Mubarak, Al Bukhari, Muslim, Saieed
bin Mansur, Abu Dawood, Tirmizi, An Nasaie, and Ibn Maja and others followed on
the foot steps of Imam Malik in this regard.
4. What lend more credibility to this book is the fact that a large number of
the students of Imam Malik, who narrated this book, went one to become great
Mujtahids and Imams of Hadith and Fiqh. For example Imam Mohammad ibn Hassan as
Shaibani, the student of Imam Abu Hanifa and the teacher of Imam Shafie, spend
three years with Imam Malik. He did the Samaat (listened every word) of Al
Muatta from him and narrated and wrote what he heard.
5. Al Muatta contains many Asaneed (chain of Narrations) that are considered by
the Muhadditheen as the most authentic Asaneed in the field of Hadith. There is,
however, differences of opinions among the Muhadditheen as to which Sanad is the
most authentic one. For example Imam Ahmad ibn Hambal and Ishaq ibn Rahway
consider that the best Sanad is when Imam Shahab Az Zuhri narrates from Salem
who narrates from Abdullah bin Omar, as mentioned by Ibn Salah. While Ali ibn
Madini and Amr bin Ali Al Fallas believe that the best Sanad is when Ibn Seren
narrates from Ubaida bin Amr As Salmani who narrates from Ali bin Talib. Another
opinion is that the best Sanad is when Ibrahim An Nakhai narrates from Alqamah
who narrates from Abdullah bin Masood. This is the opinion held by Yahya ibn
Maeen and Imam Nasaiee. Abu Bakar ibn Abi Saybah believs that the best Sanad is
that when Imam Az Zuhri narrates from Zain ul Abidin Ali bin Al Husain who
narrates from his father Hussain ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib, as reported by Ibn us
Imam Bukhari, however, believes that the best Sanad is that when Imam Malik
narrates from Nafe who narrates from Ibn Omar. Imam Iraqi holds the same
opinion. This opinion seems to be the right one. Based on this Abu Mansoor Abdul
Qahir Al Tamimi Al Baghdadi said: The best Sanad is when Imam Shafie narrates
from Imam Malik who narrates from Nafe who narrates from Ibn Omar because among
all those people who narrated from Imam Malik, no one was more sublime in rank
than Shafie. Based on this, many scholars hold the opinion that the best Sanad
is that when Imam Ahmad bin Hambal narrates from Imam Shafie who narrates from
Imam Malik who narrates from Nafe who narrates from ibn Omar. The reason for
this is that among all those who had narrated from Shafie, no one was more
sublime in rank than Ahmad ibn Hambal. This chain is called Silsila tuz Zahab (
the Golden chain).
6. Another feature of Al Muatta has been the great number of people who had
narrated this book from Imam Malik. As Imam Suyuti writes in Tanveer ul Havali:
The amount of people who had narrated this book from Imam Malik are so many that
no other Imam’s book was transmitted by so many students. Hafiz Abu Bakr Al
Khateeb wrote a book on this subject in which he counted approximately one
thousand people who had narrated Al Muatta from Malik. Qazi Ayaz also wrote a
book on this subject in which he mentioned the name of around thirteen hundred
people who narrated this book from Malik.
Today you can find several Muatta that are attributed with the names of
different students of Imam Malik. Shah Abdul Aziz Muhaddith of Delhi (1229 d.)
in his book Bustanul Muhaddithin had mentioned different Muatta’s that are
found. The description of these is as follows:
1. The most famous one is the one that is attributed towards Yahya ibn Yayha Al
Sumudy Al Undulusy. His grand father migrated to Spain and brought his entire
family along. Yahya learned Al Muatta from Ziyad ibn Abrul Rahman who is also
famous with the name Shabtoon. Ziyad is the first person to bring the Madhab of
Imam Malik to Spain. He traveled to Medina twice to learn from Malik. After
completing his studies in Medina he came back to Spain where he spends the rest
of his life in spreading the knowledge of Hadith. He was a man of great piety
and piousness. The ruler of Qurtuba asked him to accept the position of Qazi of
Qurtuba, but he refused. He died the same year in which Imam Shafie died, which
is 204 Hijri.
After learning from Ziyad, Yahya went to Medina where he learned the entire book
of Al Muatta directly from Imam Malik except for three chapters from the book of
Itikaf. Imam Malik passed away the same year in which Yahya met him, which is
179 H. Yahya participated in the funeral of Imam Malik. After the death of imam
Malik, Yahya learned from many of his students, among them was Abdullah ibn Wahb.
Yahya traveled to Medina twice. In his first journey, he learned from Imam Malik,
Abdullah ibn Wahb, Sufyan ibn Oyayna, Nafe ibn Nuaem Al Qari and others. In this
second trip to Medina, he learned from Ibn Al Qasim the author of Al Mudawwana
and from some very prominent students of Malik. He came back to Spain to spread
what he had learned in Medina. He used to give Fatwa in accordance with the
Madhab of Imam Malik. It was due to him and Esa ibn Dinar that the Madhab of
Malik spread in AL Maghrib. Yahya died in the year 234 H.
2. Another version of Muatta is attributed towards Ibn Wahb, a student of Malik.
He was born on 125 H. He learned from as many as 400 teachers. Among his
teachers were Malik, Lais ibn Saad, Mohammad ibn Abdul Rahman, Sufyan ibn Oyayna,
Sufyan ibn Thoury, Ibn Guraij and others. He was a great Mujtahid. He learned
the way of Ijtihad from Malik and Lais. He was very prolific in narrating Hadith,
Imam Zahabi and others have mentioned that in his books he narrated over one
hundred thousand Hadith and over twenty thousand traditions of Sahaba. In spite
of this large number, you will not find a single unauthentic Hadith in his
collection. Among his famous books are: Jamae Ibn Wahb, Kitab ul Mnasik, Kitab
Al Maghazi and others. He died in the year 197 H.
3. Another version of Muatta in famous with the name of Ibn Al Qasim. His
complete name was Abu Abdullah Abdur Rahman ibn Al Qasim ibn Khalid Al Misri. He
was born in year 132 H. He learned from different teachers of Medina. It was Ibn
Al Qasim who wrote Al Mudawwana, the famous book on which the Madhab of Imam
Malik relies upon. He died in Eygpt in the year 191 H.
4. Another version of Muatta is famous after Moan ibn Esa. His complete name was
: Abu Yahya Moan ibn Esa ibn Dinar Al Madani Al Ashjaie. He was among the
greatest students of Malik and an authority on the Madhab of Malik. Among the
students of Malik, he perhaps spend the most time in the company of Malik. He
got a nick name of Asa Malik, the walking stick of Malik. When Imam Malik grew
old and weak, he would walk to the Mosque reclining on Moan ibn Esa. He died in
the year 198 H in Medina.
5. Another version of Muatta is that which is transmitted by Al Qa’nabi. His
complete name was: Abu Abdul Rahman ibn Muslama ibn Qanab Al Harthi Al Qanabi.
He was born in Medina in 130 H, lived in Basra and died in Makkah in 221 H. He
was held in great esteem by the scholars of that time.
6. Another version of Muatta that is found today is transmitted by Abdullah ibn
Yousuf Al Damishqi At Tinnissi. Imam Bukhari had very frequently narrated Hadith
from him in his books.
7. Another version of Al Mwatta is transmitted by Yahya ibn Yahya ibn Bukair Abu
Zakariyya, commonly known as Ibn Bukair Al Misri. He learned from Malik, Lais
and others. Imam Bukhari and Muslim had narrated Hadith from him in their books.
He died in the year 231.
8. Another version of Al Mwatta is transmitted by Saieed ibn Ufair. His full
name was Saieed ibn Kathir ibn Afeer ibn Muslim Al Ansari. He learned from Malik,
Lais and others. All the Imams including Imam Bukhari had narrated Hadith from
him. He was born in the year 146 and passed away the year 226 H.
9. Another version of Al Mwatta is transmitted by Abu Muab Az Zuhri. His full
name was Ahmad ibn Abi Bakr Al Qasim ibn Al Haris ibn Zararah ibn Musab ibn
Abdur Rahman ibn Auf Az Zuhri. He was one of the great teachers of Medina and
was also a judge in Medina. He was born in the year 150 H. He spend considerable
number of years learning from Malik till he achieved great depth in knowledge
and understanding. All the Imams of Hadith have narrated from him other than
Imam Nasie. It is said that his Muatta was the last Muatta that Imam Malik read.
There are around one hundred more Hadith in his Muatta and the Muatta of Abu
Huzafa, than other Muatta’s. He died in the year 242 H.
10. Another version of Al Mwatta is transmitted by Musab ibn Abdullah Az Zubairi.
11. Another version of Al Mwatta is transmitted by Mohammad ibn Mubarak As Soori.
12. Another version of Al Mwatta is transmitted by Sulaiman ibn Bard.
13. Another version of Al Mwatta is transmitted by Abu Huzafa As Sahmi Ahmad ibn
Ismail. He died in Baghdad in the year 259 H. He was not consider very highly
among the Muhaddithin
14. Another version of Al Mwatta is transmitted by Suwaid ibn Saieed Abu Mohammd
Al Harawi. Imam Muslim and Ibn Majah as well as other prominent Imams of Hadith
had narrated from him.
15. Another version of Al Mwatta is transmitted by Mohammad ibn Al Hassan As
Shaibani, the famous student of Imam Abu Hanifa. He was born and raised in Kufa,
Iraq. He learned Fiqh from Imam Abu Hanifa. He learned Hadith from Imam Malik,
Suyan Al Thawri Al Awzaie and others. He settled in Baghdad where he spends his
life in teaching. Among his students were Imam Shafie Hisham Ar Razi Ali At
Toosi and many more. He died in the year 189 H. Imam Mohammad once said: I spend
three years three years at the door of Malik and I learned over seven hundred
Hadith from him.
Another important aspect to note is that Malik in his book Al Muatta had
narrated Hadith from only those Sahabah and Tabeen who were from the city of
Medina. We find only six narrators in this book who were from outside of Medina.
And they were: Abu Zubair from Makkah, Hamid at Taweel and Ayyub As Sakhtiyani
from Basra, Ata ibn Abdullah from Khurasan Abdul Kareem from Al Jazeerah and
Ibraheem ibn Abi Abla from Syria.
Commentaries and footnotes on Al Muatta
Over the centuries this book has been the focus of attention of scholars all
around the world. Along with teaching this book to students, some of the
scholars served this book by writing useful commentaries and footnotes. This way
it was made easy for the readers to understand and comprehend the meaning this
Following are some of the prominent names who had worked on this book:
1. Abu Mohammad Abdullah ibn Mohammad ibn As Sayyad Al Batalyusi Al Malki. He
was born in 444 H, AND died in year 521 H. His commentary on Al Mwatta is
called” Sharh Al Muatta,” also known as “ Al Muqtabas Sharh Mwatta”. Imam Suyuti
wrote in “Bagiyytul Woaat” that: Al Batalyusi was a great scholar of Arabic
language, and of all branches of Islamic knowledge.
2. Ibn Rashiq Al Qiranwi Al Malki. His book is called “ Sharh Mwatta”. He was
born in the year 390. He was a prolific writer.
3. Abu Marwan Abdul Malik ibn Habib ibn Sulaiman Al Qurtubi. He was born in Al
Qurtuba, Spain. His work on Al Mwatta is called “ Tafsir Al Mwatta”. Among his
other famous books are: Eraabul Quran, Gharib ul Hadith, Tabqatul Fuqaha and
others. The year of his death is: 239 H.
4. Al Hafiz Abdul Barr. His full name was: Abu Omar Yousuf ibn Abdullah ibn
Mohammad ibn Abdul Barr ibn Al Asim An Namri Al Undulsi Al Qurtubi, Al Maliki.
He is also known as Hafiz ul Maghrib and Sheikh ul Islam. He was born in the
year 368 H and lived for 95 years. He died in the year 463 H in Shatbiyya, a
small town in Spain. He wrote extensively on Al Mwatta. His first book on Al
Mwatta is called: At Tamheed lima fil mwatta minal Maani wal Asaneed. In this
book he had mentioned the names of all the teachers of Imam Malik in an
alphabetical order in seventy thick chapters. This is an excellent scholarly
Ibn Hazam wrote about this book: I do not know of any other book on the subject
of Kalam over Fiqh ul Hadith besides this book. This is the only book of its
kind. Abdul Barr wrote another book on Al Mwatta called Al Istidrak li mazahibil
Amsar fima tazammanahuL Mwatta min Ma’ani rra;ye was Asaar”. This book which is
a summary of Tamheed with some valuable additions has been receiving high praise
from the scholars for centuries. Abdul Hai Lucknawi writes in his foreword over
Al Mwatta that: I had read Al Istizkar. It is a fantastic book. It is neither
too long nor too short. It has every thing in it that would help the reader
understand Al Mwatta. Among his other books are: Al Istiaab fi Asma is Sahabah,
Al Kafi in 15 volumes over the Madhab of Imam Malik, Al Taqassi fi Ikhtisar il
Mwatta, Al Intifa li Mazahibil Ulema Malik wa Abi Hanifa wa Shafie. And many
other useful books. Imam Az Zahabi in Siyaru Alamin Nubala, wrote that Ibn Abdul
Barr was among those people who reached the rank of Mujtahedeen.
5. Abul Walid Al Baji. His full name was: Sulaiman ibn Khalf ibn Saad ibn Ayyoub
Al Undulusi Al Qurtubi Al Baji Az Zahabi Al Malki. He was born in year 403 H. He
died in year 474 H. He spend 13 years in seeking knowledge from various teachers
in Damascus, Asfahan, Iraq and other places. He wrote as many as four books on
Al Mwatta. A commentary over Al Mwatta in 20 volumes called: Al Istifaa. It is
considered of be one of the best work on Al Mwatta. Another book by him on Al
Mwatta is called: Ikhtilaful Mwattat. Another one is: Al Muntaqa, and the fourth
one is called Al Imaa in 5 volumes. Among his other books are As Siraj in Fiqh,
Al Ishara in Fiqh, and others. If you need further details about him and his
works, please consult Imam Zahabi’s book, Siyaru A’lamin Nubala’.
6.Qazi Abu Bakr ibn Al Arabi Al Malki Al Khitabi. His full name was: Abu Bakr
Mohamamd ibn Abdullah ibn Ahmad Al Undulusi, famously known as Ibn ul Arabi. He
was born in year 468 H and died in year 543 H. He wrote a detailed commentary on
Al Mwatta known as : Al Qabas Sharh Mwatta Malik ibn Anas. Among his other
famous work is a detailed commentary on Jame ut Tirmizi known as: Arizatul
Ahwazi fi Sharh Jame it Tirmizi.
Note: There are two scholars who are famous with the same name last name: Ibn
Arabi. One is Qazi Abu Bakr. He is the one whom we talked about briefly. The
other one is Muhiuddin Ibn Arabi, the writer of Al Futuhat ul Makkiyyah, and
Fususul Hikam and other famous books. They are distinguished in such a way that
the first one is called Qazi Ibn ul Arabi while the second one is called Sheikh
ul Akbar Ibn Arabi.
7. Jalauddin Al Suyuti As Shafi. His full name is: Abdur Rahman Jalal ud Din As
Suyuti. Suyuti is the name of a town in Egypt. He was born the year 849 H. he is
commonly known as Imam Suyuti. He wrote three masterpieces on Al Mwatta. One is
called Isaaful Mubatta bi Rijalil Mwatta, second one is called: Kashful Mughatta
an Wajhil Mwatta. This is a very big commentary. The third one is called:
Tanweerul Hawalik in which he summarized his earlier works on Al Mwatta.
Imam Suyuti is perhaps the most prolific Muslim writer ever. He wrote over 600
books. Many of his books are in several volumes. Among his great works are his
commentaries on each of the six authentic books of Hadith, Tafsirs of Quran
called Al Itqan fi Uloom il Quran and Ad Durrul Mansoor and Hashia tafsir Al
Baizawi. By the time he had written around three hundred books, he wrote at one
place: So far I had written three hundred books, and this list does not included
those books that I had taken back for some reasons after writing them. And he
went on to count the number of his books along with the subjects: In the field
of Tafseer: 25 books. In the field of Hadith 89 books, in the field of Fiqh 64
books, in the field of Arabic language and grammar 32 books, in the field of
Usool and Tasawwuf 23 books and in the field of Arabic Literature and History 47
8. Az Zarqani Al Malki. His full name was Mohammad ibn Abdul Baqi ibn Yousuf Az
Zarqani Al Malki. His commentary over Al Mu’atta is a fine scholarly work. He
finished writing this commentary in year 1012 H. He also wrote an excellent
commentary over “ Al Mawahibul LaDuniyya”. His year of death is 1022H as
mentioned in Kashfuz Zunoon.
9. Salamullah Al Hanafi. He was the son of Shaikh Abdul Haqq Muhaddith Ad
dehalwi. He wrote a commentary over Al Mu’atta and named his work as: Al Muhalla
Bi As raril Mwatta. He also wrote a commentary over Shamail ut Tirmizi.
10. Waliullah Al Muhaddith Al Dehlwai. His full name was Qutubuddin Ahmad ibn
Abdul Rahim. His family tree goes back to Omar Al Farooq. He was born in 1114H
in Delhi. He died in 1176 H. He was without any doubt one of the greatest
scholar that India had ever produced. His books are a testimony to this fact.
Although he wrote over 30 books and all of them are masterpieces and are very
popular in the Muslim. He wrote two commentaries on Al Mu’atta. One in the
Persian language known as “ Al Musaffa” and the second one is in Arabic language
is called “ Al Musawwa”.
11. Ibrahim BeerZada AlHanafi. Ibrahim ibn Hussain ibn Ahmad ibn Mohammad ibn
Ahmad ibn Beeri. He was the Mufti of Makkah. He was born in year 1020 H. and
died in year 1099 H. He was among the great scholars of Fiqh of Hanafi of his
time. His commentary over Al Mu’atta is called Al Fatur Rahmani. This commentary
has never been printed and can be found in the manuscript section at Al
Mahmoodia Library in Medina Munawwara.
12. Mulla Ali Al Qari. Ali ibn Mohammad Sultan Al Harwi, famously known as Mulla
Ali Qari. He was one of the most respected and reputed scholar of Hanafi school
of Fiqh of his time. He was born in Heart but moved to Makkah where he learned
from several prominent scholars of that time. When he starting giving classes on
Hadith and Fiqh, in no time he became so famous that there were students who
would come from far and distant place to learn from him. He wrote over 50 books
including the commentary on Al Mwatta in two volumes. He died in year 1014 H in
Makkah. It is said that when the news of his demise reach Egypt, the scholars of
Egypt prayed Salatul ghaib for him which was attended by over four thousand
13. Abdul Hai Al Lucknawi. His full name was Abdul Hai ibn Abdul Haleem Al
Ansari Al Lucknawi Al Hindi. He was born in 1264 H in India and died in 1304 H.
Although he lived for only 39 years and 4 months but he left behind as many as
116 books. His field of specialty was Fiqh and Hadith ul Fiqh. He wrote a
commentary on Mwatta called At Taleequl Mumajjad. This commentary had received
high reviews from scholars. It has been recently published from Damascus. I
would like to let you know that he was my great grand father.
14. Mohammad Zakariyya Al Muhajir Al Madani. His full name was Zakariyya ibn
Yahya ibn Ismail. He was born in 1315 H and died in 14 in Medina. He is commonly
known as Shaikh ul Hadith. He was the nephew of Maulana Ilyas of Delhi who
started the movement called Tablighi Jamat. He wrote some very useful books
during his life time. His commentary over Al Mwatta is in several volumes. It is
an excellent scholarly work which has received high reviews from the scholars.
Scholars over the centuries have been serving this book in their own capacities.
There could be many more commentaries on this book. I had mentioned only some of
the very famous ones.
Conclusion:: To sum up,I would like to mention that in the history of Islam,
Imam Malik had played an extremely pivotal role in transmitting the knowledge of
Hadith and Fiqh to the generations that followed. He was not only a great jurist
of Medina and founder of the Maliki school of Islamic Law, his book Al Mu’atta
is considered by many to be, after the Quran, the most important book of Islam.
In Al-Muatta we find a complete record of the legal and social parameters of the
original Muslim community in Medina. AL Mu’atta is first formulation of Islamic
Law based on the behavior of the people of Madinah during the time of the great
Companions. Al-Muatta is the blueprint for a just and radiant society: the
earliest, clearest, cleanest record of early Islam.