How many ahaadeeth are there in the Muwatta’ of Imam Maalik?.
Praise be to Allaah.
This is a
brief introduction of the book entitled Muwatta’ al-Imam Maalik; we
ask Allaah to benefit us thereby.
Al-Muwatta’ is one of the great books of Islam
which includes a number of marfoo’ ahaadeeth and mawqoof reports from the
Sahaabah, Taabi’een and those who came after them. It also includes many
rulings and fatwas of the author.
Muwatta’ is so called because its author made it easy (watta’a)
for the people in the sense that he made it easily accessible to them.
narrated that Maalik said: I showed this book of mine to seventy of the
fuqaha’ of Madeenah, and all of them agreed with me (waata’ani) on it, so I
called it al-Muwatta’.
why it was compiled: Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr (may Allaah have mercy on him) stated
in al-Istidhkaar (1/168) that Abu Ja’far al-Mansoor said to Imam
Maalik: “O Maalik, make a book for the people that I can make them follow,
for there is no one today who is more knowledgeable than you.” Imam Maalik
responded to his request, but he refused to force all the people to adhere
read the Muwatta’ to people for forty years, adding to it, taking
away from it and improving it. So his students heard it from him or read it
to him during that time. So the reports in al-Muwatta’ are many and
varied because of what the Imam did of editing his book. Some of his
students narrated from him before it was edited, some during the process,
and some at the end of his life. Some of them transmitted it in full whilst
others narrated part of it. So a number of transmissions of the Muwatta’
became well known, the most important of which are:
transmission of Yahya ibn Yahya al-Masmoodi al-Laythi (234 AH). This is the
most famous transmission from Imam Maalik, and most of the scholars based
their commentaries on it.
transmission of Abu Mus’ab al-Zuhri, which is distinguished by the additions
contained therein. It is the last version transmitted from Maalik and it is
still in circulation among the scholars.
transmission of ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Maslamah al-Qa’nabi (221 AH). This is the
largest version of the Muwatta’, and ‘Abd-Allaah is one of the
soundest of people with regard to the Muwatta’, according to Ibn
Ma’een, al-Nasaa’i and Ibn al-Madeeni.
transmission of Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Shaybaani.
transmission of ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Salamah al-Fahri al-Masri.
are many others. Shaykh Muhammad Fu’aad ‘Abd al-Baaqi (may Allaah have mercy
on him) spoke about the narrators of the Muwatta’ and discussed
fourteen versions of it, in his introduction to the edition of the
Muwatta’ that he edited (pp. 6-16).
versions differ in the order of the books and chapters, and in the number of
marfoo’, mursal, and mawqoof ahaadeeth. The wording of the ahaadeeth also
of ahaadeeth in the Muwatta’ differs from one version to another, and
according to the system of numbering [?]. That is because some scholars
counted every report from the Sahaabah or Taabi’een as a separate hadeeth,
whilst others did not count them in their numbering. Hence it is sufficient
for us to mention the numbers that are mentioned in some of the edited
versions of the Muwatta’, which are:
transmitted by Yahya al-Laythi (which is the most famous version, and this
is what is usually meant by al-Muwatta’): It was numbered by Shaykh
Khaleel Sheeha, and the number of ahaadeeth that he counted was 1942,
including both marfoo’ and mawqoof reports.
transmitted by Abu Mus’ab al-Zuhri was numbered in the edition published by
the Mu’sasat al-Risaalah. The number of hadeeth in this edition is 3069,
which includes everything, even the words of Imam Maalik, hence the number
conditions he followed in his book are among the most reliable and strongest
of conditions. He followed a method of erring on the side of caution and
choosing only sound reports.
(may Allaah have mercy on him) said: There is nothing on earth after the
Book of Allaah that is more correct that the Muwatta’ of Maalik ibn
narrated that al-Rabee’ said: I heard al-Shaafa’i say: If Maalik was
uncertain about a hadeeth he would reject it altogether.
‘Uyaynah said: May Allaah have mercy on Maalik, how strict he was in his
evaluation of men (narrators of hadeeth).
Al-Istidhkaar (1/166); al-Tamheed (1/68)
will find that many of the isnaads of Maalik are of the highest standard of
saheeh. Because of this, the two Shaykhs al-Bukhaari and Muslim narrated
most of his ahaadeeth in their books.
al-Shaafa’i made the comment quoted above before al-Bukhaari and Muslim
wrote their books, as was noted by al-Haafiz Ibn Katheer (may Allaah have
mercy on him) in his summary of ‘Uloom al-Hadeeth (pp. 24-25).
his book, Maalik followed the method of compilation that was current during
his time, so he mixed the hadeeths with the words of the Sahaabah and
Taabi’een and fiqhi opinions. The reports of the Sahaabah number 613 and the
reports of the Taabi’een number 285. In one chapter the marfoo’ ahaadeeth
appear first, and are followed by the reports of the Sahaabah and Taabi’een,
and sometimes he mentions the actions of the people of Madeenah, so his book
is a book of fiqh and hadeeth at the same time, it is not just a book of
reports only. Hence you will find that some chapters have no reports, rather
they contain the views of the fuqaha’ and the actions and ijtihaad of the
people of Madeenah. An example of that is the chapter on produce on which no
zakaah is due, and the chapter on the fast of one who kills another by
mistake, and so on.
We also find
that it is limited to sections on fiqh, etiquette and the actions of day and
night. There is nothing in his book about Tawheed, zuhd (asceticism), the
Resurrection, stories and tafseer.
al-Fikr al-Manhaji ‘inda al-Muhadditheen by Dr Humaam Sa’eed, p.
111-118; Manaahij al-Muhadditheen by Dr Yaasir al-Shimaali , p.
285ff; Muqaddimah Tahqeeq al-Muwatta’, ed. Fu’aad ‘Abd al-Baaqi.