The Family of the Learned

Excerpt from the up and coming book called the Jewels of Imam Malik:

Bismillah. Let us look at the root of the family of knowledge and how it came to be that the family of Imam Malik became known as the family of the learned.

Firstly, one must know that Imam Malik’s great grandfather was a scholar whose name was Malik ibn Abi ‘Amir al-Asbahi {May Allah have mercy upon him}. He is said to have died when Imam Malik was around 7 years of age.

^ He is known to have migrated from Yemen to Medina during the rule of Caliph ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab {May Allah be well pleased with him}, leaving his tribe the Asbahi, which is branched from the Sayyid tribe of Himyar.

Imam Jalaludin as-Suyuti authenticates this in his book called Tanwir al-Hawalik ala Sharh Muwatta Malik, where he says:

“ Imam Malik’s lineage goes back to Ya`rab ibn Yashjab ibn Qahtan… His family was originally from the al-Asbahi tribe of Yemen, however his great grandfather Abu ‘Amir made Hijrah with his family to the city of Medina al-Munawwarah, after reverting to Islam in 2 A.H.”

In regard to his scholarship, he is known to have related many Hadith from the Sahaba including Caliph ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, Umm al-Mu’minin ‘Aisha, Abu Hurayrah, Talha and Hassan ibn Thabit. May Allah be well pleased with them.

Imam Malik’s grandfather, Malik ibn Anas, was also very important in society. He was a follower of the Companions being in close contact with Caliph Uthman ibn Affan. He was one of the ones who made copies of the Qur’an for Caliph Uthman.

He also was rewarded by being allowed to be one of the 4 to carry the body of Caliph ‘Uthman to his grave. These are the honors given by Allah for those whom Allah pleases. Ma’ Sha’ Allah.

“Those who listen to the Word, and follow the best of it: those are the ones who Allah has guided, and those are the ones endowed with understanding.” {Qur’an, 39:18}

Imam Malik’s father is named Anas ibn Malik {May Allah have mercy upon him} and he was a businessman. He is known to love knowledge and to have supported his family by making arrows and Allah knows best.

The mother {May Allah have mercy upon her} of Imam Malik whose full name is ‘Aliyah bint Sharik ibn ‘Abd ar-Rahman al-Azdiyah from the Banu Assad Tribe was also a seeker of knowledge and wanted her children to learn within the sacred precints of Medinatul’ Munawwarah. Thus, Imam Malik and his siblings received their education in Medina, which at the time, had the most important seat of Islamic learning, which was the Masjid of the Prophet Muhammad {Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him}.

She was famously known within the community as Ghaaliyah, because of her pretty well off family at the time. She is also famously known as Umm Malik ~ the mother of Malik.

She also had another son who loved knowledge and became very famous for his love of it. He was an-Nadr and it was known that he used to study at all time. Shaykh an-Nadr {May Allah have mercy upon him} listened very closely to his mother and teachers and became a scholar of Medina himself. Imagine, at one point Imam Malik was known as Akh an-Nadr ~ The Brother of an-Nadr.

This wisdom of Umm Malik in how she interacted with her children is clear as day, she was an amazing woman indeed. May Allah have mercy upon her soul. With all of the encouragement from the whole family, Imam Malik had acquired a huge amount of knowledge.

Imam Malik {May Allah have mercy upon him} said:

“My mother would dress me up in the clothes of the scholars while I still was a young boy and she would tell me, ‘Go to the Masjid and seek knowledge from Imam ar-Rabia’, study his manners before you take from his knowledge.’”

Imam Malik loved his mother dearly and did not want to see her upset. She would tell him when he was a child, that the entertainment world would use him and not care for him and thus seeking knowledge should be his trade. This was not an easy thing for Imam Malik, for he loved the arts and he was extremely fond of flying pigeons. He was a very active child and loved that way of life, however with the insistence of his mother and family he did go to Imam Rabia’ {May Allah have mercy upon him} to study and then became so addicted to knowledge, that at home he would study in the gardens of his families’ property as well. He would revise and memorize the entire Qur’an and a multitude of Ahadith.

He was not the type of person to be arrogant with his own abilities and thus he would go to the teachers to make sure that his knowledge of a specific science was correct. He himself through proper example would tell his students, “You need to learn etiquette before you acquire knowledge.” and “ Knowledge does not consist in narrating much. Knowledge is but a light which Allah places within the heart.”

For all of these teachings, Imam Malik need not travel, nor did he want to, for the bulk of the scholars of Medina would teach right in the Masjid of the Prophet Muhammad.

Wa Sall’Allahu Ala Sayyidina Muhammad wa Ala Aalihi wa Sahbihi wa Sallam.

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