Tuesday, 23 March 2010

When Imam Ahmad ar-Rifa'i (q.s.) Met the Prophet (s.a.w.)

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

In the year 555 AH, Imam Ahmad ar-Rifa’i (q.s.) journeyed to Makkah for the hajj.  During his visit to the Prophet’s Mosque in Madina, he offered his prayers at the Rawdhah.  In a loud voice, he addressed the Prophet (s.a.w.), “as-Salaamu’Alaykum, my ancestor.”

Then, a voice replied, “Wa 'Alaykum as-Salaam, my descendant.”

On hearing this voice, Imam Ahmad ar-Rifa’i (q.s.) was overcome with ecstasy.  Many others in attendance heard the voice of the Prophet (s.a.w.) at the same time.  With tears in his eyes, Imam Ahmad ar-Rifa'i (q.s.) disclosed to those present, that when he was away from the sacred resting place of the Prophet (s.a.w.), his spirit used to visit and kiss the blessed shrine of the Prophet (s.a.w.).

He pleaded with the Prophet (s.a.w.) for physical touch and requested that the hands be extended to enable the lips of the devotee to kiss them.  The Prophet (s.a.w.) extended his hands from his grave and Imam ar-Rifa’i (q.s.) kissed the hand.  Thousands devotees, present at that time witnessed this.  Among them were many illustrious awliya’ such as Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (q.s.), Shaykh ‘Ali ibn Muswafir al-Amumi (q.s.) and Shaykh ‘Abd ar-Razzaq Husayn al-Wasithi (q.s.).

This incident has been mentioned in Rawdh ar-Riyahin fi Manaqib asw-Swalihin by Imam ‘Abdullah Yafa’i al-Yamani ash-Shafi’i (r.a.), who was a prolific Shafi’i scholar as well as others.


Monday, 15 March 2010

The Dream of the Grave

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

I once had some reservations about a certain ‘shaykh.’  So I did my istikharah and left it at that.  I had a long, vivid dream.  I dreamt I was lying down in a shallow grave.  I sat up and I was surrounded by a centre group of people who all belonged to the same majlis.  I saw Shaykh Zakaria Bagharib (q.s.) there and I saw this particular shaykh who visits Singapore often.  I could see right through them to the chair they sat on.  They did not look too pleased.  In the background, there were people.  They were indistinct; although they had turbans and wore the traditional dress of the shuyukh of the Naqshbandi Order.  There were many of them.  I was told that this shaykh whom I could see through, had passed away and I felt great loss in my heart.  This is strange since I never really thought I had a close relationship with him.

I saw this ‘shaykh’ of whom I had doubts and he was smiling broadly.  He looked at me and said, “I love it!”  And he was referring to a certain position of authority he had acquired.  He was sitting down, dressed in the regalia of the Order, with the turban and the walking stick, and a woman unrelated to him came and kissed his hand.  There were several such scenes and he was basking in the attention.

Finally, I saw the shaykh I was told had passed away.  The shaykh had appointed this person.  I asked, “Why him?”

And he replied, “There was nobody else.”


Sunday, 14 March 2010

Habib Nuh ibn Muhammad al-Habshy (q.s.)

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is extracted from Habib Nuh ibn Muhammad al-Habshy (q.s.).  It is based on the recollections of Shaykh Hasan ‘Abdullah al-Khathib (r.a.), the then caretaker of Habib Nuh’s (q.s.) mausoleum.

Habib Nuh ibn Muhammad al-Habshy (q.s.) came from Kedah, Malaysia.  Not much was known about his early life.  He came from a family of four brothers.  His other three brothers were ‘Arifin and Zayn, both of whom passed away in Penang; and the youngest, Salikin, who passed away in Daik, Indonesia.  From his marriage with Anchik Hamidah who came from Wellesley Province, Penang, they were blessed with only one daughter, Sharifah Badaniah.  Sharifah Badaniah later married Sayyid Muhammad ibn Hasan ash-Shathri at Jelutong, Penang.  The couple then gave Habib Nuh (q.s.) his only grandchild, a girl named Sharifah Ruqayyah (q.s.).  She married Sayyid Alwi ibn ‘Ali al-Junayd and they had five children, two boys and three girls: Sayyid ‘Abd ar-Rahman, Sayyid ‘Abdullah, Sharifah Muzhnah, Sharifah Zaynah and Sharifah Zubaydah.

By most accounts, Habib Nuh (q.s.) arrived in Singapore shortly after Sir Stamford Raffles landed on the island.  He was then in his thirties.  Although he spent the rest of his life in Singapore, and passed away there, he travelled around, mostly to Johor Bahru and to other states of peninsular Malaysia, preaching Islam.  He was a pious man and his nights were spent in prayer until dawn.  And he was a constant visitor of the graveyards, often praying for the souls of the departed.  He always moved around with his closest friends except when he specifically requested to be alone.

He was well loved by people from all walks of life, especially children.  He would often buy sweets and give money to children, the poor and destitute.  Thus it was without surprise people recalled his karamah.  He possessed the ability to literally disappear, and be seen at far-away places.  It was reported that he was ever seen performing swalah in the Grand Mosque of Makkah without actually making the journey there physically.  Once he even told a departing pilgrim that they would meet in Makkah.  When the person arrived there, it was Habib Nuh (q.s.) himself who greeted him.

Habib Nuh (q.s.) was also well known as a great healer, especially for children whom he loved very much.  There was one occasion when he healed a child with an injured leg, by simply putting his hands over the wound and reciting some prayers.  Within moments, the child was able to run again as though nothing had happened to him.  The father of the child was so happy; he donated shillings to Habib Nuh (q.s.), who in turn gave the money away to the needy.

Habib Nuh (q.s.) would brave even thunderstorms to tend to any sick child.  He once walked to Paya Lebar from his home at Telok Blangah in heavy rain to heal a child.  When he arrived at the child’s home, to the astonishment of the parents, Habib Nuh (q.s.) was not drenched in the slightest.

In another incident, Habib Nuh (q.s.) was awakened by the continuous crying of his neighbour’s child.  When he went over, he found that the family was too poor to buy food for the hungry child.  With tears in his eyes upon hearing the story, Habib Nuh (q.s.) took a coconut kernel, poured some water in it and recited some prayers.  By Allah’s (s.w.t.) Will, the water turned into milk for the child.

Habib Nuh (q.s.) is also remembered for his powerful and accurate premonitions.  He seemed to know if people were in need, or were sick or had intentions meant for him.  Once there was an Indian Muslim man who travelled back by sea to India to visit his family.  He made a sacred pact with Allah (s.w.t.) that if he were to return to Singapore safely, he would present Habib Nuh (q.s.) with a gift.  Upon returning, he was shocked when Habib Nuh (q.s.) was already waiting for him at the shore.  Habib Nuh (q.s.) called out to him, “I believe you have made a promise to give something to me.”

Surprised, the man said, “Speak, O wise one, what you wish for and I will gladly present it to you.”

Habib Noh replied, “I would like to have rolls of yellow cloth to donate to the poor, the destitute and children.”

Hugging Habib Nuh (q.s.), the man cried, “By Allah, I will be most willing to present it to a man who is exalted in the Sight of Allah for his kindness towards mankind.  Please give me three days to present them to you.”  And he did.

After 78 years of life devoted to Islam, Habib Nuh (q.s.) passed away peacefully on Friday, 27th July 1866 corresponding to 14th Rabi’ al-Awwal 1283.  A few days before passed away, he gave a great deal of advice to his beloved friends.  Amongst his treasured words were, “Don’t be greedy for worldly materials nor have any ill-feelings towards anyone throughout your life.”

Habib Nuh (q.s.) breathed his last breath in Telok Blangah, at the residence of Johor’s Temenggong Abu Bakar.  When news spread, many people from all walks of life, including Englishmen who converted to Islam through Habib Nuh (q.s.), and those from the neighbouring islands came to pay their last respects.  All horse-drawn carriages in Singapore came to a halt from their daily activities, to ferry the old folks, women and children to the funeral for free.  But just before the cortege left the Temenggong’s house for the burial ground, a strange phenomenon occurred.

Before his passing, Habib Nuh (q.s.) had already instructed his friends to bury him at the top of Mount Palmer, which in that time was a small burial ground.  Somehow on that fateful day, everyone had forgotten about it and they were all preparing to go to the Bidadari Muslim cemetery.  When the time came to carry the body, it could not be raised from the ground.  Nobody could lift it.  People began to panic.  Fortunately, someone finally remembered the late Habib Nuh’s (q.s.) instructions.  They immediately decided to proceed to Mount Palmer instead.  Through the Will of Allah (s.w.t.), the cortege was able to move at much ease amid cries of the takbir.  Habib Nuh (q.s.) is buried at Mount Palmer.

His karamah did not end there.  During World War 2, when Telok Blangah was extensively bombed by the Japanese, not a single bomb touched Habib Nuh’s (q.s.) maqam.  And when the Singapore government wanted to build an elevated highway along Tanjung Pagar, the roadway was designed to curve around it, the height almost on the same level as Habib Nuh’s (q.s.) mausoleum.  It is almost impossible for any driver not to notice it.  Now everyone can visit him without going up the 49 steps to the top of the hill that houses his grave.

The Vision of Shaykh 'Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (q.s.) during Seclusion

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is extracted from Qala’id al-Jawahir and translated by Shaykh Muhtar Holland.

When Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (q.s.) emerged from his seclusion, Shaykh Abu ar-Ridha’ (q.s.), the servant, asked Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir (q.s.) what was his experience during his period of seclusion.  Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir (q.s.) turned around and gave him a look of annoyance and then he uttered these:

“The Beloved Revealed Himself to me from the darkness of the veils,
So, I witnessed things too marvellous for mere words to describe.
The universe was radiant with the light of His Countenance,
And I feared that my fate would be sealed by the awe He Inspired.
I called to Him in secret, in honour of His Majesty and Glory,
And I did not seek the Vision of Him, for fear of Stern Rebuke;
Except that I did beseech Him: ‘Grant just a single Glimpse,
For You will thereby Revive the dead of heart and inner core.
Take pity on one for whom You are his Ultimate Aspiration,
For Your Meaning is in my sight, and Your Memory is in my heart.’”

Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir (q.s.) told his servant, “If only I had Permission to relate those marvellous experiences!”


Qaswidah Attributed to Hasan ibn Tsabit (r.a.)

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is a qaswidah, in praise of the Prophet (s.a.w.), attributed to Hasan ibn Tsabit (r.a.).

“When I saw his light shining forth,
In fear I covered my eyes with my palms,
Afraid for my sight because of the beauty of his form.
So, I was scarcely able to look at him at all.

The lights from his light are drowned in his light,
And his faces shines out like the sun and moon in one.
A spirit of light lodged in a body like the moon,
A mantle made up of brilliant shining stars.

I bore it until I could bear it no longer.
I found the taste of patience to be like bitter aloes.
I could find no remedy to bring me relief,
Other than delighting in the sight of the one I love.

Even if he had not brought any clear signs with him,
The sight of him would dispense with the need for them.
Muhammad is a human being but not like other human beings.

Rather he is a flawless diamond and the rest of mankind is just stones.
Blessings be on him so that perhaps Allah may have Mercy on us,
On that burning Day when the Fire is roaring forth its sparks.”


The Power of & Nature of Du’a

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

This has been adapted from an article by Brother Khalid Baig.  To most Muslims, du’a means supplication.  Du’a is much more than that.  It is everything that is said, every passing thought.  And that is why we are accountable for what we think.  So guard the tongue and guard the passing thoughts.

Du’a can change our life and our outlook.  It is the most potent weapon of a mu’min.  Once, Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) passed by a people who were suffering from some affliction.  "Why don't they make ud’iyyah to Allah for Protection?" he asked.

Most Muslims have not forgotten du’a completely.  But the practice of du’a has become ritual for many.  It is considered when all efforts have failed.  It is an act of last resort.  It is belittled through actions and sometimes even with words.  For some, it conveys the idea of hopelessness.  They have not recognised the Majesty and Generosity of Allah (s.w.t.).  Du’a is the most potent weapon of a mu’min.  It is the essence of ‘ibadah.  We can never fail with it; we can never succeed without it.  In reality, du’a should be the first and the last resort of the mu’min.  All plans and actions come in between.

Du’a is conversation with Allah (s.w.t.), our Creator, our Nourisher, our Cherisher, our Master, the Omnipotent, the Omniscient.  This is of extraordinary significance.  It is the Knowing that Allah (s.w.t.) is Involved in the existence of His Creation.  He is not remote, He is not far.  He is nearer than the jugular vein.



…for We are Nearer to him than (his) jugular vein. (Surah Qaf:16)

We turn to Him because we acknowledge that He alone can Lift our sufferings and Solve our problems.  We feel relieved after describing our difficulties to our Creator.  We feel empowered after having communicated with Allah (s.w.t.).  We sense His Mercy all around us after talking to the Most Merciful of the Merciful.  We get a new commitment to follow His Path for that is the only path for success.

In every difficulty, our first action is du’a, as is our last.  We ask Allah (s.w.t.) to Show us the way to handle that difficulty; we seek His help in following the path He Shows to us; we seek His Aid in making our efforts successful.  When we fall sick, we know that we cannot find the right doctor without His Will; that the best doctor may not be able to diagnose our condition without His Command; that the best treatment plan will not succeed without His Permission.  We make du’a for all of these.  We make du’a before we seek medical help, while we are receiving it and after it has been delivered.  The same is true of all other difficulties we may encounter.

A person engaged in du’a affirms his belief in tawhid and shuns belief in all false gods.  With each du’a, his belief in Allah (s.w.t.) is affirmed.  He beseeches Him, affirming his own powerlessness.  A person seriously and sincerely engaged in du’a understands exactly the relationship between himself and the Creator and affirms it through his actions.  That is the essence of ‘ibadah.  Additionally, such a person can never be arrogant or proud.  That is the reality of sincere ‘ibadah.

Du’a is our most potent weapon in all struggles of life as well as in jihad in the battlefield.  During the battle of Badr, the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) stood up all night in prayer seeking Allah's (s.w.t.) Help in the battle between unequal armies that would follow the next day.  In the decisive battles against the crusaders, Sultan Swalah ad-Din al-Ayyubi (r.a.) was busy day and night.  His days were devoted to jihad.  His nights were spent making du’a, crying, seeking Allah's (s.w.t.) Help.  This has been the practice of all true mujahidin.

We should make it a point to make du’a for all things big and small.  It is the beginning of wisdom to realise that big and small are arbitrary labels that are totally irrelevant in this context.  Nothing is too big for Whom we are asking from; nothing is too small for the one who is asking.  That is why we have been taught to ask Allah (s.w.t.) when we need something as small as shoelaces.  We should ask as a beggar, as a destitute person, for that is what we in reality are in relationship to Allah (s.w.t.).  At the same time we should ask with great hope and conviction that we shall be Granted our prayers.  We should remember the hadits: "There is nothing dearer to Allah than a servant making du’a to Him."  On the other hand, a prayer lacking concentration and conviction is no prayer at all.

We should make du’a at all times, not only during times of distress.  The Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) said, "Whosoever desires that Allah Answers his du’a in unfavorable and difficult conditions, he should make plentiful ud’iyyah in days of ease and comfort."  Also he said, "The person who does not ask from Allah, Allah becomes Angry with him."

We should ask for all of our needs: those related to this world as well as those related to the akhirah.  Those who only concentrate on the former are, in effect, announcing that they do not care for their life in the permanent abode.  They should blame no body but themselves for the total ruin in that world that Qur'an assures us awaits them.  Those who only concentrate on the later are also showing lack of balance, for we need Allah's (s.w.t.) Help to lead a good life here as well.

We should make du’a not only for ourselves but also for our parents, brothers and sisters, spouses and children, relatives and friends, teachers and other benefactors, and destitute and struggling Muslims everywhere.  We should pray for them for the good in this world as well as in the akhirah.  The Prophet (s.a.w.) said, "The ud’iyyah of a Muslim for his brother in his absence is readily accepted.  An angel is appointed to his side.  Whenever he makes a beneficial ud’iyyah for his brother the appointed angel says, 'Amin.  And may you also be blessed with the same.'"  And this was recorded in Swahih Muslim.

Beyond the Realm of ‘Ubudiyyah, the Reality of Ud’iyyah is understood differently.  By the strictest doctrine of tawhid, Du’a is Allah (s.w.t.) Asking of Himself through the medium of the one who thinks he is asking.



There is no power and no strength save with Allah the Most High, the Great.

Since there is n power and no strength and no reality except Allah (s.w.t.), the supplicant has no power to ask and certainly no power to grant.  When you listen to the radio, you certainly know that the music did not originate from the radio.  It is just the means.  In the same vein, man is faqir.  He is the owner and the possessor of nothing.  Not even his own soul.



Verily Man is in loss, (Surah al-‘Aswr:2)

Hence, since it is Allah (s.w.t.) Asking, it is always Assured that ud’iyyah is Granted.



And your Lord says: "Call on Me; I will Answer your (Prayer): But those who are too arrogant to serve Me will surely find themselves in Hell in humiliation!" (Surah Ghafir:60)

If that be the case, why would anyone say their ud’iyyah is not Granted?  Allah (s.w.t.) is not a liar.  It is the inadequacy of understanding.  Firstly, the du’a is not always what is on the lips.  It is the one in the heart.  In a heart conflicted, and most hearts are conflicted, it is oft time that the lips say one thing, but the heart says another.  How many times has a woman made du’a for the heart of a man, asking in his hand in marriage, yet in the depths of her heart, she has doubts about him.  It is the ud’iyyah of the heart that takes precedence over the ud’iyyah of the lips.  And then, because of this misunderstanding, the woman blames Allah (s.w.t.) for not Answering the du’a.  That is the reality of most people.

Secondly, if all ud’iyyah are Granted, when and how are they Granted?  Since Allah (s.w.t.) is the Master of Reality, in truth, all ud’iyyah are Granted even before the asking.  Allah (s.w.t.) has no inadequacy.  He is not in need of your asking to be Giving.  The issue is the awareness of the supplicant.  The one who is aware knows immediately that a du’a is Granted and by the Favour of Allah (s.w.t.), he may see the results immediately.

Therefore ask with the certainty that it Granted, and it shall be so.  If it was not meant for you, you would not even have the ability to even ask.  Allah (s.w.t.) Never denies ud’iyyah.

Brief Biography of Imam Malik ibn Anas (r.a.)

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Malik ibn Anas ibn Malik ibn Abi ‘Amir al-Aswbahi (r.a.) is known as Imam Malik (r.a.), the Shaykh of Islam, the Proof of the Community, and Imam of the Abode of Emigration.  He was one of the most highly respected scholars of fiqh.  Imam ash-Shafi`i (r.a.), who was one of Imam Malik’s (r.a.) students for nine years and a scholarly giant in his own right, stated, “When scholars are mentioned, Imam Malik is the star.”  The Maliki madzhab named after him.  It is one of the four major schools of jurisprudence.  His full name was Abu ‘Abdullah Malik ibn Anas ibn Malik ibn Abi ‘Amir ibn ‘Amr ibn al-Harits ibn Ghayman ibn Khuthayl ibn ‘Amr ibn al-Harits.  His lineage was from al-Aswbahi, a royal tribe, a branch of Himyar in Yemen.  Imam as-Suyuthi (q.s.) said that Imam Malik’s (r.a.) lineage goes to Ya’rab ibn Yashjab ibn Qahthan.  He was also known as Imam Dar al-Hijrah wa al-Madani because he remained in Madina the majority of his life.

Imam Malik (r.a.) was born the son of Anas ibn Malik (r.a.), not the famous swahabi, and A’aliyah bint Shurayk al-Azdiyyah, in Madina circa 711 CE.  His family was originally from the al-Aswbahi tribe of Yemen, but his great grandfather, Abu ‘Amir, relocated the family to Madina after converting to Islam in the second year after Hijrah, 623 CE.  According to al-Muwaththa’, he was tall, heavyset, imposing of stature, very fair, with white hair and beard but bald, with a huge beard and blue eyes.  According to Imam adz-Dzahabi (r.a.), Shaykh Sam’ani ibn Farhun (r.a.), and others, Imam Malik (r.a.) was born in 93 AH, due to the report of Shaykh Yahya ibn Bukayr (r.a.), one of the elder students of Imam Malik (r.a.).  Others have said he was born in 90 AH, and some say in 95 AH.  Shaykh Yaf’i (r.a.) reported, in Thabaqat al-Fuqaha’, that it was 94 AH.  Extraordinarily, he remained in the womb on his mother for more than the usual nine months.

Shaykh Mutarraf ibn ‘Abdullah al-Yasari (r.a.) said that the Imam (r.a.) was tall, well-built, fair complexion, blond-haired with large-eyes and nose.  He had a broad forehead with hardly any hair on it, a characteristic referred to as aswla’ by the Arab.  He shared this characteristic with ‘Umar (r.a.) and ‘Ali (k.w.).  He had a very profuse and thick beard that reached down to his chest.  He used to trim his moustache near the corners of his lips and said it was disapproved to fully shave them.  He followed the sunnah of ‘Umar ibn al-Khaththab (r.a.) who used to pull his moustaches hair near the lips when he was in deep thought.  From this, it is established that ‘Umar (r.a.) had hair on both sides of the lips.  He used to wear very elegant and expensive clothing, usually white and frequently changing them.  He would put musk and other fragrances on his clothing.  He would wear his turban and have part of it come down underneath his chin and the tail of it between his two shoulders.  He would also wear a shawl-like garment that would cover the head and shoulders.

The Prophet (s.a.w.) had said, “Very soon will people beat the flanks of camels in search of knowledge, and they shall find no one more knowledgeable than the knowledgeable scholar of Madina.”  This is recorded in Sunan at-Tirmidzi as hasan swahih.  Imam at-Tirmidzi (r.a.), Qadhi ‘Iyadh (r.a.), Imam adz-Dzahabi (r.a.) and others related from Imam Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah (r.a.), Imam ‘Abd ar-Razzaq (r.a.), Imam ibn Mahdi (r.a.), Imam ibn Ma’in (r.a.), Shaykh Dzu’ayb ibn ‘Imamah (r.a.), Imam ibn al-Madini (r.a.), and others that they considered that scholar to be Imam Malik ibn Anas (r.a.).

Imam Malik (r.a.) took advantage of the fact that he was contemporary to many of the tabi‘in to formulate his school of thought, which gave precedence to the acts of the people of Madina over the ahadits, if they were in conflict.  This was possible due to the sizeable amount of scholars and companions of the Prophet (s.a.w.) residing in the city where Imam Malik’s (r.a.) reputation grew.  Imam Malik (r.a.), nevertheless, showed hesitancy in issuing religious verdicts, explaining in one of his more famous statements, “The shield of the scholar is, ‘I do not know,’ so if he neglects it, his statement is attacked.”

Living in Madina gave Imam Malik (r.a.) access to some of the most learned minds of early Islam.  He memorised the Qur’an in his youth, learning recitation from Imam al-Qurra’, Imam Abu Suhayl Nafi’ ibn ‘Abd ar-Rahman (r.a.), from whom he also received his sanad, or certification and permission to teach others.  Imam Nafi’ bin ‘Abd ar-Rahman’s (r.a.) recitation is the foundation of the entire ummah today.  He was the servant of ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (r.a.).  He passed away in 169 AH.

Imam Malik (r.a.) studied under various famed scholars, including Shaykh Hisham ibn ‘Urwah ibn Zubayr (r.a.) and Imam ibn Shihab az-Zuhri (r.a.).  Along with Imam Abu Hanifah (r.a.), the founder of the Hanafi madzhab, he learnt at the household of the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) lineage, Imam Ja’far asw Swadiq (q.s.).  Some of Imam Malik’s (r.a.) other teachers include Shaykh Abu az-Zanad (r.a.); Shaykh ‘Abdullah ibn Zakwan (r.a.); Shaykh Yahya ibn Sa’id al-Answari (r.a.); Shaykh ‘Abdullah ibn Dinar (r.a.); Zayd ibn Aslam (r.a.), the former servant of ‘Umar ibn al-Khaththab (r.a.); Imam ‘Abdullah ibn Abu Bakr ibn Hazm (r.a.); Imam Sa’id ibn Abu Sa’id al-Maqbari (r.a.); Shaykh Sumayy (r.a.), the former servant of Abu Bakr (r.a.); Shaykh Ayyub Sakhtiyani (r.a.); Shaykh ‘Abd ar-Rahman ibn al-Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr (r.a.); Shaykh Tsawri ibn Zayd ad-Dabli (r.a.); Shaykh Ibrahim ibn Abi Ablah al-Maqdisi (r.a.); Shaykh Rabi’ah ibn Abu ‘Abd ar-Rahman (r.a.); Imam Humayd Ta’wil (r.a.) and Shaykha ‘Aishah bint Sa’ad ibn Abi Waqqasw (r.a.),

Imam Malik (r.a.) had thousands of students.  Some hagiographers have mentioned so many.  Hafizh ibn Katsir (r.a.) and Imam adz-Dzahabi (r.a.) and Qadhi ‘Iyadh (r.a.) have mentioned over 1,300 names who have narrated ahadits from the great Imam (r.a.).  Imam ad-Daraquthni (r.a.) mentioned 1,000.  Hafizh Abu Bakr al-Khathib al-Baghdadi (r.a.) mentioned 993.  Some of Imam Malik’s (r.a.) teachers were also later his students.  They include Shaykh Zuhri Abu al-Aswad (r.a.); Shaykh Ayyub Sakhtiyani (r.a.) Shaykh ar-Rabi’ah ar-Ra’iy (r.a.); Shaykh Yahya ibn Sa’id al-Answari (r.a.); Shaykh Muhammad ibn Abi Zi’ab (r.a.); Shaykh ibn Jarih (r.a.) and Shaykh al-A’amash (r.a.).  Some other amongst his eminent pupils included Imam Muhammad (r.a.); Imam ash-Shafi’i (r.a.); Imam ‘Abdullah ibn Mubarak (r.a.); Imam Layts ibn Sa’ad (r.a.); Imam Shu’bah (r.a.); Imam Sufyan ats-Tsawri (r.a.); Imam ibn Jurayj (r.a.); Imam ibn ‘Uyaynah (r.a.); Shaykh Yahya al-Qaththan (r.a.); Imam ibn Mahdi (r.a.) and Shaykh Abu A’asim an-Nabil (r.a.).

In the beginning of his quest for knowledge, Imam Malik (r.a.) did not have much means to acquire it properly so he sold the ceiling beams of his home to purchase books and papers.  After some time, Allah (s.w.t.) Bestowed upon him substantial wealth.  Imam Malik’s (r.a.) memory was extraordinary.  He himself said that anything he recorded in his memory would never be forgotten again.  It is reported that Imam Malik (r.a.) had the best memory in all of Hijaz.  In the knowledge of ahadits and fiqh. Imam ash-Shafi’i (r.a.) said, “If Malik and ibn ‘Uyaynah where not here, the knowledge of Hijaz would be gone.”

Imam adz-Dzahabi (r.a.) said, “There remains no scholar in Madina after the tabi’in comparable to Imam Malik in knowledge, jurisprudence, eminence, and memorisation.”

Imam Malik’s (r.a.) chain of narrators was considered the most authentic and known as Silsilah adz-Dzahab or “The Golden Chain of Narrators” by notable hadits scholars including Imam al-Bukhari (r.a.).  The silsilah consists of Imam Malik (r.a.), who narrated from Imam Nafi’ (r.a.), who narrated from ibn ‘Umar (r.a.), who narrated from Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.).

He practiced extreme care in regards to narrating ahadits, and did not take ahadits from just anyone.  Imam Malik (r.a.) said, “I do not accept knowledge from four types of people: a person well-known to be foolish, even though all the other people narrate from him, a person involved in committing heresy and calling others towards the innovation in Diyn, a person who lies in regular conversation with people, even though I do not accuse him as liar in regards to ahadits, and a person who is pious worshipper or scholar, but does not properly and correctly memorise what he narrates.”

It was asked of Imam Malik (r.a.), “Why do you not take narrations from ‘Amr ibn Di’ar?”

He replied, “I went to him and I found him narrating ahadits to others while in a standing position.  So, I thought to myself that the ahadits of the Prophet (s.a.w.) is too great and majestic to take them in a standing position.”

He would take great caution and narrate only from authentic and reliable sources.  Even other great scholars and companions of his time bore witness to this.  Imam Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah (r.a.) said, “May Allah have Mercy upon Malik.  He is extremely critical of the men,” meaning in regards to the chain of narrators of a hadits.  He also said, “Malik only used to narrate to others authentic ahadits.  He would not report except from the most reliable narrators.  I do not see Madina but in decrease after the death of Malik.”

One of his greatest pupils, Imam ash-Shafi’i (r.a.) said, “When Imam Malik was in doubt over a hadits, he would totally disregard it.”

Eminent narrators in Imam Malik’s (r.a.) al-Muwaththa’ include, Shaykh ‘Abdullah ibn Yusuf at-Tunisi (r.a.); Shaykh ‘Abdullah ibn Muslimah al-Qa’nabi (r.a.); Shaykh ‘Abdullah ibn Wahhab al-Miswri (r.a.); Imam Yahya ibn Yahya al-Laytsi (r.a.) and Imam Abu Musw’ab az-Zuhri (r.a.).

In fiqh, Imam Malik (r.a.) surpassed his contemporaries in Madina.  Shaykh Wahb ibn Rashid (r.a.) said, “I have never seen someone with the knowledge of deducing from the Qur’an as Malik, along with his great recognition of strong and weak narrations.”

Shaykh ‘Abdullah ibn Luhay’ah (r.a.) said, “I asked an-Nadhr ibn ‘Abd al-Jabbar who has a saying after Rabi’ah in Madina?  He replied, ‘al-Ghulam al-Aswbahi.’”  “al-Ghulam al-Aswbahi” is another nickname of Imam Malik (r.a.)

Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (r.a.) said, “I compared Imam Malik to Awza’iy, ats-Tsawri, Layts, Hammad, and al-Hakam in knowledge, and he is the leader in hadits and fiqh.”

Imam Malik (r.a.) adhered to a textual interpretation of ahadits in relation to Allah’s (s.w.t.) Attributes.  Imam ad-Daraquthni (r.a.) related that Imam Malik (r.a.) was asked about the Attributes of Allah (s.w.t.), and he answered, “Pass them on as they come.”

Qadhi ‘Iyadh (r.a.) related that Imam Malik (r.a.) was asked whether people would see Allah (s.w.t.) given the narration, “And some faces shall be shining and radiant upon that day, looking at their Lord.”

Imam Malik (r.a.) answered, “Yes, with these two eyes of his.”

And when his student replied, “There are a people who say he will not be looking at Allah, that ‘looking’ means a ‘reward,’”

Imam Malik (r.a.) answered, “They lied; rather they will look at Allah.”

Imam Malik (r.a.) only learned from those known for their purity, piety and trustworthiness, who excelled in memorisation and jurisprudence.  The teachers mentioned in al-Muwaththa’ were from all in Madina.  He narrated ahadits from 95 of them.  This achievement ensured that all the knowledge of Madina was now in one place, earning him the title, Imam Dar al-Hijrah.

Imam Malik (r.a.) narrated ahadits and taught from the age of 17 to about 79.  He gave service to the teachings of the Prophet (s.a.w.), giving lessons on fiqh and issuing fatawa for 62 years of his life.  Before Imam Malik (r.a.) would narrate or dictate ahadits to others, he would perform wudhu’ or take a bath, put on his best and most expensive clothing, groom himself, put on musk or another fragrance and then proceed to the gathering with the utmost dignity and respect.  In every gathering, incense and sandalwood would be burnt continuously until the lesson was over.  In Imam Malik’s (r.a.) gatherings, there would always be plush and expensive mats or carpeting spread out on the floor and when he arrive, there would be pin-drop silence out of the respect for him.  In these gatherings, the students would sit around the Imam (r.a.), just like how a king’s servants would gather around his throne.

Imam Malik (r.a.) was extremely cautious in regards to issuing fatawa.  Shaykh ar-Rabi’ah ar-Ra’iy (r.a.) reported, “We were with Imam Malik when a man entered upon us and asked Imam Malik, ‘Abu Abdullah!  Tell me about the verse:


The Beneficent One, Who is Established on the Throne. (Surah ThaHa:5)

How is He established?’

Imam Malik (r.a.) was immediately overwhelmed and lowering his head he started poking the earth with a twig, and continued in this state until he was entirely soaked in perspiration.  Then raising his head, he said, ‘The how is incomprehensible; the Establishment is not unknown; belief in it is compulsory; asking about it is an innovation; and I do not think that you are anything but a person of innovation.’  Then he commanded that the man be shown out.”

On another occasion, a delegation having heard about his vast knowledge, travelled from far to visit him.  They then proceeded to ask him forty-eight questions, and he replied with, “I do not know” to thirty-two questions.

In another instance, a man upon receiving the same answer said to him, “What shall I tell my people, who have sent me from so far to you, the most knowledgeable person of Madina?”

Imam Malik (r.a.) replied, “Tell your people that Malik does not know.”

Imam ‘Abdullah ibn al-Mubarak (r.a.) reported that one time, Imam Malik (r.a.) was continuously stung by a scorpion under his garment over ten times while narrating ahadits.  During the narration of the ahadits, he did not stop in order to remove it; rather he continued to narrate until the end.  “I noticed the discoloration of his face when the Imam was being stung.  Afterwards, when all the people had left, I came to the Imam and asked him what had happened.  He replied, ‘A scorpion was stinging me under my garment.  I could not have kept my patience because of my self-restraint; rather it was out of the respect of the ahadits of the Prophet (s.a.w.) that I did not remove it.’”

Imam Malik (r.a.) believed that the Qur’an is ghayr makhluq, not a Creation.  He also believed that Allah (s.w.t.) is Established on His Throne just as He has Described in the Qur’an.  He believed that Allah (s.w.t.) has Knowledge of all things and that the believers will see Him with their eyes on the Day of Judgement.  He believed that iman is to be declared and is manifested through actions that will increase by obedience and decrease by committing sins.  He believed that anyone who uses abusive language against the Prophet (s.a.w.) should be given death and that repentance should not avail them.  He believed that Abu Bakr (r.a.) and ‘Umar (r.a.) were the best in the ummah after the Prophet (s.a.w.) and that those who follow the beliefs of the Qadariyyah sect, prayer is not valid behind them and their women cannot be married.

Imam Malik (r.a.) was vehemently opposed to bid’ah and directed others not to extend the salaam to the ahl al-bidah, stating, “How evil are the People of Innovation; we do not give them felicitations.”  Imam Malik (r.a.) explained that, “He who establishes an innovation in Islam, regarding it as something good, has claimed that Muhammad (s.a.w.) has betrayed his trust to deliver the message as Allah Says, ‘This day have I Perfected for you your religion.’  And whatsoever was not part of the religion then, is not part of the religion today.”  This statement has long since been qualified by the scholars of the Ahl as-Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah to refer to harmful innovations in worship.


... This day have I Perfected your religion for you ... (Surah al-Ma’idah:3)

Imam Malik (r.a.) sternly prohibited theological rhetoric and philosophical speech, kalam.  Imam Malik (r.a.) believed that kalam was rooted in heretical doctrines taken up and followed by controversial theologians such as Jahm ibn Swafwan.  When asked about an individual who delved into kalam, Imam Malik (r.a.) answered, “He establishes his innuendo with kalam, and if kalam had been knowledge, the companions and the tabi’in would have spoken about it, just as they spoke about the rules and regulations.”  It must be noted however, that the Maliki madzhab and the other schools are not against kalam per se, rather it was against the methodology that lead to the Mu’taziliyyah and Jahmiyyah, the deniers of Allah’s (s.w.t.) Attributes who also said that the Qur’an is Created, which is heresy.

Even when Imam Malik (r.a.) attained old age and became very weak, he never rode in Madina.  He felt that it was disrespectful to ride on the very land that the Prophet (s.a.w.) is buried.  Imam ash-Shafi’i (r.a.) said, “I saw at the door of Imam Malik’s home, beautiful horses from Khurasan and Egyptian mules.  So I said to him they were very nice.  He said, ‘They are yours as a gift from me.  I replied that he should keep one for himself.  His reply was, ‘I am embarrassed to do so.  How can I ride on them when the body of the Prophet (s.a.w.) is buried here in Madina and the land is being trod upon with the hooves of horses?’”

Imam Abu Musw’ab az-Zuhri (r.a.) said, “Imam Malik was reliable, safeguarded, trustworthy in ahadits, a great scholar, jurist, proof-bearer and a God-fearing man.”

Shaykh Yahya ibn Mu’in (r.a.) said, “He is the Amir al-Mu’minin of ahadits.”

Imam ‘Abd ar-Rahman ibn Mahdi (r.a.) said, “There is no one more trustworthy in ahadits an-abadi on the face of this earth other than Imam Malik.”  He also said, “Sufyan ats-Tsawri is the Imam of Ahadits, not the Imam of Sunnah while Awza’iy is the Imam of Sunnah, not the Imam of Ahadits; but Imam Malik in the Imam of Ahadits and the Imam of Sunnah.”

Imam Abu Hanifah (r.a.) said, “I have never seen anyone quicker in understanding, correct in answering and testing than Imam Malik.”

Imam ash-Shafi’i (r.a.) said, “After the tabi’in, Imam Malik is the proof-bearer on this entire earth for or against the people.” ·He also said, “Knowledge is encircled by three men: Malik ibn Anas, Sufyan bin ‘Uyaynah, and Layts ibn Sa’ad,” and, “When the scholars of knowledge are mentioned, Imam Malik is the guiding star.”

Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (r.a.) said, “I was asked whose ahadits should be memorised by heart if from anyone?  I replied Malik bin Anas.”  He also said, “I have compared Imam Malik to Awza'iy, Hammad, al-Hakim, ats-Tsawri and Layts, in knowledge, but he is the leader in ahadits and fiqh.

Imam al-Bukhari (r.a.) said, “I was asked, ‘Whose is the most authentic chain of narrators.’  I replied from Malik from Nafi’ from ibn ‘Umar.”

Imam an-Nasa’i (r.a.) said, “After the tabi’in, the most understanding, reliable and trustworthy man in ahadits is Imam Malik.  He has hardly narrated from a weak narrator apart from Abu Umayyah ibn ‘Abd al-Karim who is matruk.”

The great Imam (r.a.) reached the age of between 84 to 90 years when he became ill on a Sunday and this illness continued to get worse for three weeks until on the 11th or 14th of Rabi’ al-Awwal, 179 AH, he passed away.  He was buried in Jannat al-Baqi’, the cemetery across from Masjid an-Nabawi.  Imam Malik's (r.a.) last words were related by Shaykh Isma’il ibn Abi Uways (r.a.) who said, “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:’”  Imam Malik (r.a.) left behind three sons, Yahya, Muhammad, and Hammad.