Online Encyclopedia

MALIK IBN ANAS (c. 718-795)

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Originally appearing in Volume V17, Page 489 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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MALIK IBN ANAS (c. 718-795), the founder of the Malikite school of canon law, was born at Medina about A.D. 718: the precise date is not certain. He studied and passed his life there, and came to be regarded as the greatest local authority in theology and law. (For his legal system and its history see MAHOMMEDAN LAW.) His life was one of extreme honour and dignity, but uneventful, being given to study, lecturing on law and acting as mufti and 'judge. Only two episodes stand out in his biography. When Mahommed ibn 'Abdallah, the 'Alid, rose in A.D. 762 at Medina against the 'Abbasids, Malik gave a fatwa, or legal opinion, that the oath of allegiance to the'Abbasids was invalid, as extorted by force. For this independence he was severely scourged by the `Abbasid governor, who, apparently, did not dare to go beyond scourging with a man of his standing with the people. The second episode gave equal proof of independence. In 795 Harlan al-Rashid made the pilgrimage, came with two of his sons to Medina, and sat at the feet of Malik as he lectured in the mosque. The story, legendary or historical, adds that Malik had refused to go to the caliph, saying that it was for the student to come to 'his teacher. Late in life he seems to have turned to asceticism and contemplation. It is said that he retired from all active, public life and even neglected plain, public duties, replying to reproaches, " Not every one can speak in his own excuse " (Ibn Qutaiba, Ma 'arif, 250). He is also entered among the early ascetic Sufis (cf. Fihrist, 183). He died in Medina, A.D. 795. For a description of his principal book, the Muwatta', see Goldziher's Muhammedanische Studien, ii. 213 sqq. He wrote also a Koran commentary, now apparently lost, and a hortatory epistle to Harlan al-Rashid. See further, de Slane's trans. of Ibn Khallikan, ii. 545 sqq.; von Kremer, Culturgeschichte, i. 477 sqq.; Brockelmann; Gesch. der crab. Litt., i. 175 sqq. ; Macdonald, Muslim Theology, &c., 99 sqq. and index; Fihrist, 198 seq. ; Nawawi, 530 sqq. (D. B. MA.)
End of Article: MALIK IBN ANAS (c. 718-795)
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