Imam Ghazzali on the 4 imams Part 3

>> Sunday, August 31, 2008

The third part of the 4 Imams deals exclusively with Imam Malik but also mentions Imam Ahmed and Sufiyan Saori when concluding. If you have read nothing else in this series of blogs please at least read the ending to this part.

In The Words of Imam Ghazzali

Imam Malik, He was adorned with five qualities. Once he was asked: 0 Malik, what do you say about search or knowledge? He replied: It is fair and beautiful. If anybody does not separate from you morning to evening, don't be separate from him. When the Imam intended to narrate traditions, he used to make ablution, sit in the middle of his bed, comb his beard, apply scent and then become fearful and grave and then narrate traditions. When asked about these formalities, he said: I intend to show honour to the traditions of the prophet. He said: Knowledge is light. God places it wherever He wishes. Regarding the seeking of pleasure of God by knowledge, he said: There is no benefit in arguments about religion. This is proved by a saying of Imam Shafeyi who said: Once I was near Malik. He was asked about forty-eight legal questions. He replied regarding thirty-two questions: I don't know. When the learned were mentioned, Imam Malik was counted as a bright star. It is said that once the Caliph Manner prohibited him to narrate the particular tradition on the illegality of divorce made under compulsion. The Caliph thereafter instigated some one to question the Imam on the subject. He declared among the people that divorce pronounced under compulsion is not binding. For this, the Caliph had him flogged. The Caliph Harun Rashid once asked Imam Malik: Have you got any house? He said: No. The Caliph then gave him 3,000 dinars and said: Go and buy with this money a house. The Imam accepted the money but did not spend it for the purpose. When the Caliph intended to return to Baghdad he asked Malik You should come along with us, because we have decided to make the people follow `Muatta' as Osman made them follow the Quran. Malik said: This is not the way to make the people follow `Muatta' because the companions of the Prophet after his death dispersed around the different countries and they related the traditions in each place. Further the Prophet said: Difference of opinion among the people is a blessing. As for my going with you, there is no way as the Prophet said: Had they known, they would have known that Medina is best for them. Again he said: Medina removes the corruption just as the furnace removes the dross of iron. Therefore here are your dinars. If you like, take them back and if you like, You may have them. Does this mean that you ask me to leave Medina in return for what you have given me? I prefer nothing more than the city of the Messenger of God, not even the whole world. Such was the asceticism of Malik. When as a result of his diffusion of knowledge and the spreading of his companions, large wealth began to come to him from different corners of the earth, he used to distribute them in charity. Such an ascetic was Soloman despite his royal glory. Another example of his asceticism is that Imam Shafeyi once said: I noticed a number of Korasani horses at the door of Malik. I have never seen any other horse better than them. I said to Malik : How beautiful are they! He said: These are then present from me to you. I said to him: Keep one of them for yourself for riding. He said: I shall he ashamed before God to tread with the hoof of any beast of burden the soil wherein lies His Prophet. See therefore his benevolence and his veneration for the soil of Medina.

There is yet another report of his asceticism. He said: I once went to the Caliph Harun Rashid. He asked Malik: 0 Abu Abdullah, you should come frequently to my place, so that I may learn from you `Muatta'. He said : May God exalt my master, this knowledge has come from you. If you honour it will be exalted; and if you dishonour it, it will be despised. Knowledge is something you shall learn and not something you should receive. Then the Caliph said: You are right. He said to his sons: Go out to the mosque and acquire from him knowledge along with the people.

Imam Ahmed and Sufiyan Saori had many followers. Nevertheless, they are known for asceticism and God-fear. All books contain their sayings and stories of their asceticism. Now examine the lives of the Imams and scrutinize those who claim to be their followers. Did the Imams rise to such eminence only for their knowledge of Fiqh which now means contracts of the type of salam, hire, rental, lease and other worldly laws?