Madh-hab and ʿAmal

Madh-hab and ʿAmal

What must be clearly understood at the out set of this discussion about madh-hab is that the concept madh-hab with regards to Imaam Maalik  and the people of Madinah is totally different to the concept of Madh-hab which is applied to the other cities and their Imaams and their Madh-habs.  The original and early meaning ofmadh-haab with regards to the people of Madinah is synonymous with the meaning for the word ʿAmal.  In the Muwatta, Imaam Maalik  refers to the ʿAmal as:

الأَمْرُ  الْـمَعْمُولُ  بِهِ  وَمَعْرِفَةٌ  ذَلِكَ  فِي  صُدُورِ  النَّاسِ  وَمَا مَاضَى مِنْ  عَمَلِ  الْـمَاضِي  فِيهِ

Al-‘amru-l-maʿmuul bihi wa maʿrifah dhaalika fii suduuri-n-naasi wa maa maadaa min ʿAmali-l-maadii fihi

‘The matter is practiced by the people, and the knowledge of that is in the hearts of the people, and it is done in accordance with the ʿAmal (practice) of the past’ [ al-Muwatta with the sharh (Commentary) of az-Zurqaanii]

ʿAmal is the action or practice which is done in accordance with or on the strength of the behavior or actions of someone.  The ʿAmal of Madinah therefore is the action or practice of the people of Madinah who sought to perform every action or practice in accordance with or on the strength of the behavior and actions of Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, the Sahaabah, the Tabiʿuun and the Tabiʿu-t-Tabiʿiin.

Thus, it can be clearly seen that the ʿAmal of Madinah’ in reality is no more than the Sunnah of Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم combined with the accepted practices of the Salaf (The Worthy Predecessors) – the people of three generations – whom the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم called outstanding in the well known and sound hadiths.  In regards to this matter Imaam Maalik  is reported to have said:

“…I have thus said that it is my opinion after having considered the matter deeply in relation to the Sunnah and what has been endorsed by the people of knowledge who are worthy of being followed and what the practice has been from the time of the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم, and the Rightly Guided Khalifs along with those whom I have met in my life-time.  It is their opinion (I have followed) and I have not gone beyond them for (the opinion) of anyone else (لَـمْ  أَخْـرُجْ  عَـنْ  جُـمْلَتِهِمْ  إِلَـى  غَـيْرِهِـمْ [lam akhruj ‘an jumlatihim ilaa ghayrihim]).”

There are phrases and expressions which Imaam Maalik uses in the Muwatta that clearly indicate that what he means by the word Sunnah is the establish practice or authoritative precedent that is to say the establish practice or authoritative precedent of either the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, or the members of the three preeminent generations or the ʿulamaa of the city who were his contemporaries.   Some of these phrases and expressions are as follow:

١.‬  سنة نبيه

1. Sunnatu Nabiyyihi – The Sunnah of His prophet

٢ . …  السنة عندنا التي  لا اختلاف فيها

2. … the Sunnah with us in which there is no disagreement concerning it.

٣ . و تلك السنة التي  لا اختلاف فيها عندنا و الذي  لم  يزل عليه عَمَلُ  الناس

3. This is the Sunnah in which there is no difference of opinion among us and which is still the ʿAmal of the people.

٤ . فهذا الذي  كنت اسمع و الذي  عليه أمر الناس عندنا

4. And so this is what I have heard and it is the practice the people among us.

٥ . السنة عندنا و الذي  الدركت عليه أهل العلم ببلدنا  …

5. The Sunnah with us  and  which I saw the people of knowledge in our city doing it …

٦ .  فهذا الأمر عندنا و الذي  سمعت من أهل العلم

6. This is the practice among us and that which I have heard from the people of knowledge.

٧ . وبلغني  أن عمر بن الخطاب قال …

7. And it has reached me that ʿUmar bin al-Khattaab said …

٨ .  وهو الأمر الذي  لم  يزل عليه أهل العلم ببلدنا

8. It is the practice which the people of knowledge in our city continue to do.

As for the word مَـذْهَـب (madh-hab), it is rooted in the first form verb ذَهَـبَ (dhahaba) which means he went , while ذَهَـبَ  إِلَـى (dhahaba ilaa) means he held  the view, he was of the opinion and the phrase ذَهَبَ مَذْهَبَهُ (dhahaba madh-habahu) means he embraced so and so’s ideas; he followed so and so’s principles or rules; he went the way so and so went.  Thus, when Imaam Maalik  said he considered a matter according to the madh-hab of the people of Madinah he meant that he was making legal judgements according to the opinion, way and/or method of the people of knowledge in Madinah who were his contemporaries or were his predecessors going back to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم.  Even when he is force to use ijtihaad,

Imaam Maalik sets as his boundary the  madh-hab or way of the people of Madinah.  It is reported that Imaam Maalik  said:

“Where I have heard nothing from them (the scholars of Madinah), I have used my own judgement and considered the matter according to the madh-hab (way) of those whom I met, until I felt that I had arrived at the truth, or near it, so that it would not be outside of the madh-hab of the people of Madinah and their opinions…”

And so it can be seen from this statement, that in its early usage, the word madh-hab is nearly synonymous with the word ʿAmal.  Therefore, it can be said that Imaam Maalik’s madh-haab was the ʿAmal of Madinah.

Ibn Taymiyyah said concerning this matter,

الحمد لله،‏  مذهب أهل المدينة النبوية‏  – دار السنة ودار الهجرة ودار النصرة إذ فيها سن الله لرسوله محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم سنن الإسلام وشرائعه وإليها هاجر المهاجرون إلى الله ورسوله وبها كان الأنصار الذين تبوءوا الدار والإيمان من قبلهم‏

“Praise belongs to Allah.  It is the Madh-hab of the people of Madinah – the City of the Prophet صلى اللّه عليه وسلّم, the Abode of the Sunnah, the Abode of Hijrah, the Abode of Assistance.  In Madinah Allah prescribed the Sunnah of Islam and His Shariiʿah, to Madinah the Muhaajiruun emigrated to Allah and His messenger صلى اللّه عليه وسلّم, and in Madinah were the Ansaar – ‘…those who lived in the Abode before them [the Muhaajiruun] and had adopted  faith…’ [59:9]

مذهبهم في‏  زمن الصحابة والتابعين وتابعيهم أصح مذاهب أهل المدائن الإسلامية شرقا وغربا،‏  في‏  الأصول والفروع

Their Madh-hab which existed in the time of the Sahaabah, the Taabiʿuun, Taabiʿu Taabiʿiin was the soundest of the Madh-habsof the people of all the cities of Islam in the east and in the west – in both Usuul (roots) and Furuuʿ (branches).”

Ibn Taymiyyah further states:

وفى القرون التي‏  أثنى عليها رسول الله صلى الله تعالى عليه وسلم،‏  كان مذهب أهل المدينة أصح مذاهب أهل المدائن،‏  فإنهم كانوا‏  يتأسون بأثر رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أكثر من سائر الأمصار،‏  وكان‏  غيرهم من أهل الأمصار دونهم في‏  العلم بالسنة النبوية واتباعها،‏  حتى إنهم لا‏  يفتقرون إلى نوع من سياسة الملوك،‏  وأن افتقار العلماء ومقاصد العباد،‏  أكثر من افتقار أهل المدينة حيث كانوا أغنى من‏  غيرهم عن ذلك كله،‏  بما كان عندهم من الأثار النبوية التي‏  يفتقر إلى العلم بها واتباعها كل أحد،‏  ولهذا لم‏  يذهب أحد من علماء المسلمين إلى أن إجماع أهل مدينة من المدائن حجة‏  يجب اتباعها‏  غير المدينة،‏  لا في‏  تلك الأعصار ولا فيما بعدها،‏  لا إجماع أهل مكة ولا الشام ولا العراق ولا‏  غير ذلك من أمصار المسلمين

ومن حكى عن أبي‏  حنيفة،‏  أو أحد من أصحابه أن إجماع أهل الكوفة حجة‏  يجب اتباعها على كل مسلم،‏  فقد‏  غلط على أبي‏  حنيفة وأصحابه في‏  ذلك،‏  وأما المدينة فقد تكلم الناس في‏  إجماع أهلها،‏  واشتهر عن مالك وأصحابه أن إجماع أهلها حجة،‏  وإن كان بقية الأئمة‏  ينازعونهم في‏  ذلك والكلام

“In the generations which the Messenger of Allah صلى اللّه عليه وسلّم praised, the Madh-hab of the people of Madinah was the soundest of the madh-habs of the people of the cities.  They followed in the footsteps of the Messenger of Allah صلى اللّه عليه وسلّم more than the rest of the cities.  The people from the other cities had  less knowledge about the Prophetic Sunnah than them and they followed it less.  They were not in need of the administration of the rulers.  The needs of the scholars and the needs of the worshippers (elsewhere) were more than the needs of the people Madinah. This is due to the fact they (The People of Madinah) had less need than the others for any of these things because of what they possessed from the Prophetic Traditions which everyone needs to know and to follow.  It is for this reason, that none of the ‘ulamaa (scholars) of the Muslims was of the opinion that the ijmaaʿ (consensus) of any city from among the cities of the Muslims other than Madinah was a proof which should be followed – not in that era nor eras which follow – not the ijmaaʿ of the people Makkah, Ash-Shaam, Iraaq – nor that of any of the other cities of the Muslims.  Those who relate from Abu Haniifah  or one of his companions that the ijmaaʿ of al-Kuufah is a proof which must be followed by every Muslim have placed Abu Haniifah  and his companions in error by relating that.  As for Madinah, the people have conversed about the ijmaaʿ of its people and it is well known from Maalik  and his companions that the ijmaaʿ of its people is a proof and that the rest of the  Imaams contest them on that.”

Ibn Taymiyyah again says:

فأما الأعصار الثلاثة المفضلة فلم‏  يكن فيها بالمدينة النبوية بدعة ظاهرة البتة،‏  ولا خرج منها بدعة في‏  أصول الدين البتة،‏  كما خرج من سائر الأمصار

“As for the three preeminent eras (the eras of the Prophet صلى اللّه عليه وسلّم and his Ṣaḥaabah, the Tabiʿuun and the Tabiʿu Tabiʿiin), there was no evident bidʿah (innovation) in the Prophetic City of Madinah during those eras at all nor did any innovation in usuulu-d-diin (the fundamental principles of religion) emerge from it like what emerge from the rest of the cities.

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Published in: on August 16, 2010 at 16:20  Leave a Comment  

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