The Maliki Madhab named after Imam Malik, is one of the four schools of jurisprudence that are followed by Sunni Muslims to this day. Imam Malik was a student of Imam Abu Hanifa and Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq. Imam Malik was born the son of Anas ibn Malik (not the Sahabi) and Aaliyah bint Shurayk al-Azdiyya in Madinah around 711. His family was originally from the al-Asbahi tribe of Yemen, but his great grandfather Abu ‘Amir relocated the family to Madinah after converting to Islam in the second year of the Hijri calendar, or 623 CE. According to Al-Muwatta, he was tall, heavyset, imposing of stature, very fair, with white hair and beard but bald, with a huge beard and blue eyes
Imam Malik was a man of aura, meaning he was a man of respect. Every scholar was a man of respect. When you looked at Imam Malik, even if you didn’t know that he was an imam, his features struck you. You would find something inside of you forcing you to respect this man. In Arabic this is called aura. He used to say there is nothing harder upon me in life than when I was asked a question on Halal and Haram because I am representing the Hukm, the ruling of Allah Himself, the Creator of the world.
Imam Malik spent his whole life in Madinatul Munawwarah – the land of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). He lived for 90 years. He never left Madinah in his entire life, only to Makkah when he went to perform his Hajj and Umrah. In fact, not only did he ever never leave Madinah in his life until his passing, but he never rode on a camel or any transport vehicle. Because in his righteousness and love for Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and as a role model, he saw it befitting himself as a scholar in Madinah to always have his feet stuck to the ground of the land where the blessed body of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) is buried. He saw it disrespectful as an imam, representing his deen in the highest esteem to lift himself off the ground, out of respect for Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) whose blessed body was in the ground. Never in his 90 years, except for Hajj and Umrah – when outside Madina – did he lift his legs off the ground.
In the time of imam Malik’s middle ages, a young man, at the age of about 13 years old, his mother from Makkah said to him, “My son you are now well known. You have memorised the whole Quran and you have memorised the hadeeth. You have memorised poetry. I want to send yo u to Imam Malik to learn his adab (character) before you learn his knowledge.” She got him ready. She wrote a letter to the governor of Makkah who happened to be her cousin asking him to write a letter to the governor of Madinah requesting him to go with her son to Imam Malik, to intercede for him to be his teacher. The young boy took the letter, along with some food, he set off trough the dessert seeking knowledge.
He reached the governor of Madinah and gave him the letter written by the governor of Makkah. The governor of Madinah,’s face changed when he read the letter. He began to sweat. The young boy looked at him and asked, “What’s wrong?” He said, “Wallahi if the governor of Makkah asked me to walk barefoot in the middle of the dessert with nothing on my head it would be easier than for me to go to Imam Malik’s house – because he had so much respect for him.
The boy innocently said to him, “You don’t have to go to him, make him come to you.” He didn’t realise that going to Imam Malik wasn’t as simple as going to the officials. The governor of Madinah laughed and together they went to Imam Malik’s house. The knocked on the door and Imam Malik’s servant answered. The governor of Madinah asked for Imam Malik. She said to him if it they had a religious question they could write it on a piece of paper and he will answer it for them. If they want to learn Ahadeeth they should go to his circles of dars (lessons) and if it is a government issue, this was not the time, there is another time for it. The governor of Madinah said to the servant, “I have a letter for him from the governor of Makkah.”
A big, tall man, blonde, white, coloured eyes, unlike the people of Madinah came to the door. They looked up at him and a servant lady brought him a chair and he sat on it. He sat and said, “What does the governor of Makkah want from me?” Without a word, the governor of Madinah gave Imam Malik the letter. When Imam Malik read the letter he threw it away saying, “There is no power or might except by Allah. Has it come to this that knowledge now needs connections?” He looked at the young boy and the young boy said to him, “May Allah straighten the path of the Shaykh.” Out of respect he said, “I am a Qureshi, out of the lineage of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).” In saying this he forced the Imam to listen to him. “I am Qureshi. I have memorised the Quran at the age of seven. And your muwatta, all of it, I have memorised it with its chain of narrations, I have memorised it by the age of 10. My mother sent me here to learn from you.”
Imam Malik looked at him and said, “Oh young boy, Fear Allah and stay away from sins. If you do so there will be something of your future.” This young boy was Imam Muhammad ibn Idrees ash Shafi’i.
Imam Malik passed away at the age of 84 in Madinah in 795 and is buried in Jannat ul-Baqi across from Masjid – un – Nabawi. Imam Malik’s last words were related by Isma’il Ibn Abi Uways who said, “Imam Malik became sick, so I asked some of our people about what he said at the time of his death. They said, `He recited the shahadah(testification of faith), then he said, ‘Their affair is for Allah, before and after.’”