Maliki School of Thought (madhhab)

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Maliki School of Thought (madhhab)

Maliki School of Thought (madhhab)

The Maliki madhhab is one of the four major schools of Fiqh or religious law within Sunni Islam. The Maliki school of thought was headed by Imam Malik ibn Anas al-Asbahi who lived from 93H to 179H. He was born in the holy city of Medina, and his fame spread throughout Hijaz. Maliki School of jurisprudence relies on Quran and hadiths as primary sources. Unlike other Islamic fiqhs, Maliki fiqh also considers the consensus of the people of Medina to be valid source of Islamic law.

The Abbasids tried to set him up as a popular reference for the nation in giving verdicts and injunctions. The Abbasid caliph al-Mansur asked him to write al-Muwatta’, his book of fiqh, which contains the principles of the Maliki school of thought. Furthermore, during the hajj season, the official announcer of the government proclaimed that no one had the authority to give fatawas (religious decisions) except for Imam Malik.

Maliki madhhab is one of the largest group of Sunni Muslims, comparable to Shafii madhhab in adherents, but smaller than the Hanafi madhhab. Sharia based on Maliki doctrine is predominantly found in North Africa excluding northern and eastern Egypt, West Africa, Chad, Sudan, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi (UAE), and in northeastern parts of Saudi Arabia. The Murabitun World Movement also follows the Maliki School.

In the medieval era, Maliki School was also found in parts of Europe under Islamic rule, particularly Islamic Spain and the Emirate of Sicily. A major historical center of Maliki teaching, from 9th to 11th centuries, was in the Mosque of Uqba of Tunisia


Mosque of Uqba


The Maliki School primarily derives from the work of Imam Malik ibn Anas, particularly the Muwatta. Imam Malik, also known as Al-Muwatta. The Muwaṭṭa relies on Sahih Hadiths, includes Malik ibn Anas' commentary. Malik included the practices of the people of Medina where the practices are in compliance with or in variance with the hadiths reported. This is because Malik regarded the practices of Medina (the first three generations) to be a superior proof of the "living" sunnah than isolated, although sound, hadiths.


The second source, the Mudawwanah, is the collaborator work of Malik's longtime student, Ibn Qāsim and his mujtahid student, Sahnun. The Mudawwanah consists of the notes of Ibn Qāsim from his sessions of learning with Mālik and answers to legal questions raised by Saḥnūn in which Ibn Qāsim quotes from Malik, and where no notes existed, his own legal reasoning based upon the principles he learned from Malik. These two books, i.e. the Muwaṭṭah and Mudawwanah, along with other primary books taken from other prominent students of Malik, would find their way into the Mukhtaṣar Khalīl, which would form the basis for the later Maliki madhhab.

Maliki School is most closely related to the Hanafi School, and the difference between them is more of a degree, rather than nature. However, unlike Hanafi school, Maliki school does not assign as much weight to analogy, but derives it rulings from pragmatism using the principles of istislah (public interest) wherever the Quran and Shahih Hadiths do not provide explicit guidance.

Maliki School considers apostasy that is the act of leaving Islam or converting to another religion or becoming an atheist, as a religious crime. Both men and women apostates deserve death penalty according to the traditional view of Sunni Maliki fiqh and the property of the apostate is seized and distributed to his or her Muslim relatives; his or her marriage annulled (faskh); any children removed and considered ward of the Islamic state.

Maliki law views blasphemy as an offense distinct from, and more severe than apostasy. Death is mandatory in cases of blasphemy by Muslim men, and repentance is not accepted. For women, death is not the required punishment, but she is arrested and punished till she repents and returns to Islam or dies in custody. A non-Muslim who commits blasphemy against Islam must be punished; however, he or she can escape punishment by converting and becoming a devout Muslim.

 The grave of Imam Malik in Medina Al Monavarah

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