Tell me about the Imam Mâlik. What was his life like? When was he born? When did he start acquiring knowledge about Islam? When did he die?
the Fatwa Department Research Committee - chaired by Sheikh `Abd al-Wahhâb al-Turayrî
According to the strongest opinion, Mâlik b. Anas was born in the year 93 AH.
He began his studies at an early age, while in his early teens, and had among his teachers prominent Successors and scholars like al-Zuhrî, `Abd Allah b. Dînâr, Humayd al-Tawîl, Rabî`ah al-Ra’y, Zayd b. Aslam, `Amr b. al-Hârith, `Alqamah, Nâfi`, Hishâm b. `Urwah, and others. He narrates from them in al-Muwatta’.
Among his contemporaries were scholars like Abû Hanîfah, al-Awzâ`î, Sufyân al-Thawrî, al-Layth b. Sa`d, Sufyân b. `Uyaynah, `Abd Allah b. Mubârak.
He was quick to acquire an aptitude for legal knowledge and was appointed to issue religious verdicts in Madinah when he was only twenty-one years of age. People began to travel from far and near to seek knowledge from him. The number of his students increased until by the time of the reign of the Caliph al-Rashîd, huge throngs had started to gather around him and the situation remained this way for the remainder of his life.
He died in the year 179 AH.
His most famous book, al-Muwatta`, is both a book of hadîth and a book of Islamic Law. It contains roughly 100 hadith with unbroken chains of transmission going back to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and over 200 hadîth where a Successor attributes a statement to the Prophet (peace be upon him) without mentioning the Companion who heard it directly from the Prophet (peace be upon him). It also contains over 600 hadîth conveying the statements of the Companions and over 280 opinions of the Successors.
There were many prominent narrators of the Muwatta’ who narrated the book from Mâlik at different times. Among these narrators was Muhammad b. al-Hasan al-Shaybânî, the famous student of Abû Hanîfah and one of the co-founders of the Hanafî school of law.
Muhammad b. Idrîs al-Shâfi`î, the founder of the Shâfi`î school of law, was one of his students.
The Mâlikî school of law is primarily studied today in North Africa, West Africa, Southern Egypt, and the Sudan.
Source: Islam Today
-- Al Arabiya Digital