Map of the Muslim world. Maliki (in teal) is the predominant Sunni school in North Africa.
The Great Mosque of Kairouan (also called the Mosque of Uqba or Mosque of Oqba) had the reputation, since the 9th century, of being one of the most important centers of the Maliki school [1]. The Great Mosque of Kairouan is situated in the city of Kairouan in Tunisia.

The Mālikī (Arabic: مالكي‎) madhhab is one of the schools of Fiqh or religious law within Sunni Islam. It is the second-largest of the four schools, followed by approximately 25% of Muslims, mostly in North Africa, West Africa, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and in some parts of Saudi Arabia. In the past, it was also followed in parts of Europe under Islamic rule, particularly Islamic Spain and the Emirate of Sicily.


The basis for the School of the City of Light, Medina Munawwarah

The Mālikī school derives from the work of Mālik ibn Anas, primarily the Muwaṭṭah and the Mudawwanah. The Muwaṭṭah is a collection of hadiths which are regarded as sound and find their place in al-Bukhārī with some commentary from Mālik regarding the ‘amal "practices" of the people of Medina and where the ‘amal is in compliance with or in variance with the hadiths reported. This is because Mālik (and what would later be the school after his name) regarded the ‘amal of Medina (the first three generations) to be a superior proof of the "living" sunnah than isolated, although sound, hadiths.

The second main source, al-Mudawwanah al-Kubrā, is the collaborator work of Mālik's longtime student, Ibn Qāsim and his mujtahid student, Saḥnūn. The Mudawwanah consists of the notes of Ibn Qāsim from his sessions of learning with Mālik and answers to legal questions raised by Saḥnūn in which Ibn Qāsim quotes from Mālik, and where no notes existed, his own legal reasoning based upon the principles he learned from Mālik. These two books, i.e. the Muwaṭṭah and Mudawwanah, along with other primary books taken from other prominent students of Mālik, would find their way into the Mukhtaṣar Khalīl, which would form the basis for the later Mālikī madhhab.

It differs from the three other schools of law most notably in the sources it uses for derivation of rulings. All four schools use the Qur'an as primary source, followed by the sunnah of Muhammad, transmitted as hadiths. In the Mālikī madhhab, sunnah includes not only what was recorded in hadiths, but the legal rulings of the four rightly guided caliphs (Rāshidūn), primarily ‘Umar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb, ijmā‘ (consensus of the scholars), qiyās (analogy) and ‘urf (local custom which is not in direct conflict with established Islamic principles). The Mālikī school, in addition, relies heavily upon the practice of the salaf people of Medina as a source (composed of the Ṣaḥābah, tābi‘īn, and the older successors, i.e. the best of generations as reported in the authentic hadith). This is because their collective practice, along with the derivative rulings from the salaf scholars, are considered mutawātir, or known and practiced by so many people that it can only be of the sunnah. In other words, the practice of the first three generation of Muslims who resided in Medina, i.e. the salaf or righteous predecessors form the normative practice of the "living sunnah" that was preserved from Muḥammad.

When forced to rely upon conflicting authenticated hadiths to derive a ruling, Mālikīs would then choose the hadith that has a Medinan origin, meaning the transmitter(s) resided in Medina. To summarize, in the Mālikī madhhab the "living sunnah" of the salaf of Medina substantiates the single reported hadith, not the other way around. This is probably what distinguishes the Mālikī madhab the most from the Shāfi‘ī, Ḥanbalī, and Ḥanafī madhāhib respectively.

This source, according to Mālik, sometimes supersedes hadith, because the practice of the people of Medina was considered "living sunnah," in as much as Muhammad migrated there, lived there and died there, and most of his companions lived there during his life and after his death. The result is what would appear to be a much more limited reliance upon ṣaḥīḥ hadiths than is found in other schools, but in actuality, serves to strengthen hadiths related to actual practice.

Mālik was particularly scrupulous about authenticating his sources when he did appeal to them, however, and his comparatively small collection of aḥādith, known as al-Muwaṭṭah "The Approved", is highly regarded. Mālik is said to have explained the title as follows: "I showed my book to seventy jurists of Medina, and every single one of them approved me for it, so I named it "The Approved".

Notable differences in prayer from other madhabs

School children in Mauritania

There are slight differences in the preferred methods of ṣalāt, or prayer, in the Māliki school.[2]

  • Qiyām (the standing position in prayer) - The dominant (mashhūr) position is to leave the hands to dangle at one's sides during prayer. It has erroneously been ascribe that the reason was Imam Mālik prayed this way because his arms were dislocated due to the public lashing he received as mentioned above.[3] The actual reason for this practice, i.e. sadl, being the dominant position in the school was when Saḥnūn asked Ibn Qāsim about the hadith of placing the right hand over the left mentioned in the Muwaṭṭah, Ibn Qāsim quoted Imam Mālik as saying, 'I do not know of this practice (i.e. qabḍ) in the obligatory prayer (i.e., I did not see the people of Medina practicing this), however it is allowed in the supererogatory prayers if the standing has been prolonged'. The common Sunnī practice of joining the hands beneath the chest (or below the naval as is the case with the Hanafi madhhab) right hand over left, does not invalidate the prayer, since leaving the hands down is a recommended act (while placing them together is regarded as offensive in the obligatory prayer, except for those who regard doing so to be sunnah).
  • Looking straight ahead at eye-level (i.e. literally "facing" the Ka‘bah) during the standing and sitting parts of the prayer, rather than looking down towards the place of prostration (there is disagreement on this point, with many famous Mālikī scholars holding that one should look at the place of prostration, however, these are minor points related to concentration and humility before Allah and in any case, one's posture should not be compromised).
  • Not reciting any supplications before the Fātiḥah in obligatory prayers (the Bismillah, reciting "in the name of Allah, the most Gracious, the most Merciful" before the Fātiḥah.).
  • Tashahhud - Turning the right-handed fist onto its side (so that the smallest finger is touching the thigh) and the right index finger is moved from side to side.
  • Taslīm - Saying the ending taslīm only once ("al-salāmu ‘alaykum" while turning the head to the right); In other madhhabs it is common to say the taslīm twice, once to your right shoulder and once to the left.
  • Qunūt is to be recited only in the morning prayer.[4]

Notable Mālikīs

See also


  1. ^ Roland Anthony Oliver and Anthony Atmore, Medieval Africa, 1250-1800, Cambridge University Press, 2001, page 36
  2. ^ The Risala of 'Abdullah ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani: A Treatise on Maliki Fiqh. Chapter 10: On How to Do the Fard Prayers and the Sunna and Nafila Prayers Connected with Them
  3. ^ al-Intiqā’, p. 44, which mentions that Ja‘far ibn Sulaymān (the governor of Medina) lashed the Imam in the year AH 146 (763 CE) and stretched out his arms until his hands became dislocated and so he was not able to place his hands one over the other in prayer. Imam Mālik wrote al-Muwaṭṭah two years after this happened.
  4. ^ "Salat According to Five Islamic Schools of Law" from

External links

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