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Maliks Muwatta – Introduction

English Translation by Aisha Abdarahman at-Tarjumana and Yaqub Johnson.

Imam Maliks Muwatta is a collection of sayings and deeds of Prophet Muhammad (SAW… Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), also known as the sunnah. The reports of the Prophet’s sayings and deeds are called ahadith.

Imam Malik was a prominent scholar of Islam, and is the originator of the Maliki judicial school of thought. He is reputed to have had over one thousand students. During Imam Maliks lifetime, he steadily revised his Muwatta, so it reflects over forty years of his learning and knowledge. It contains a few thousand hadith.

A great number of scholars and muhadditheen have spoken and referred to Imam Maliks great knowledge and literary works. Amongst his various literary compilations (Muwatta) is the most eminent.

Imam Shaafi’ee has stated regarding Maliks Muwatta : “On the face of the earth there is no book(s) more authentic than Muwatta.” It should be borne in mind that Imam Shafi’ee passed away in the year 204 A.H. before the compilation of Sahih Bukhari. Today, it is a unanimously agreed opinion that Sahih Bukhari is ranked as No.1 in this field.

It is important to realize, however, that Imam Maliks collection is not complete: there are other scholars who worked as Imam Malik did and collected other reports.

Maliks Muwatta – Background


It is said that Imam Malik sought out over three hundred Sahaba (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 Shaikhs who were residing in the city of the Prophet at the time. Among Imam Maliks writings is the great work entitled Kitab-al-Muwatta, which is the earliest surviving book(s) of Islamic law and Hadith. It quotes sayings as well as the practices according to the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (SAW) 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(s), but in a revised edition the Imam reduced the number to only one hundred and seventy-two. Imam Maliks literary works as stated by Qaazi Ayaadh are as follows :
    1. Kitaabul Mu’atta.
    2. Risaalatu Maalik Ilaa Ibn Wahab Fil Qadr.
    3. Al-Mudawwanatul Kubraa.
    4. Risaalatu Maalik Fil Aq’dhiyah.
    5. Risaalatu Maalik Ilaa Gassaan Ibn Muhammad Ibn Mutarrif Fil Fatwaa.
    6. Risaalatu Maalik Ilaa Haaroonir Rasheed Al’ Mash’ hooratu Fil Aadaabi Wal.
    7. Tafseeru Ghareebil Qur’an.
    8. Kitaabus Sirr.
    9. Risaalatu Maalik Ilaa Layth Fi Ijmaa’i Ahlil Madinah.

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