Story 45: At Miqat

Once while on a Hajj pilgrimage to Makkah, Malik ibn Anas,1 the famous Islamic jurisprudent of Madinah, was travelling with Imam Al-Sadiq (‘a). They arrived at the Miqat, where pilgrims must don the garments of pilgrimage and invoke the well-known supplication to Allah, ‘Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik’ (Here I am O Allah, at Thy service). As was their custom, the pilgrims proclaimed the supplication.

Malik ibn Annas noticed that the Imam (‘a) was in a peculiar state. As he was about to say the same supplication, he was touched by emotion, his voice choked, and he almost lost control of himself, as if he was about to fall to the ground.

Malik ibn Annas came near him and said, “O descendant of the Holy Prophet (S), there is no choice, you must recite this supplication at any cost!”

The Imam (‘a) said, “O son of Abi Amar! How can I dare say ‘Labbaik’? It means: O my God, I assent in all situations to dispatch all of your duties and I am ready to accept the invitation and act accordingly. I am always ready to obey your orders. So, with what assurance could I act impudently towards my God and present myself as a servant, ready to obey Him? If I get a reply ‘La Labbaika’, what would I do then?”2

  • 1. Malik ibn Annas ibn Malik ibn Amar is one of the four well known Imams of Sunni Muslims. The renowned school of Maliki is named after him. He was Abu Hanifa’s contemporary. Shafi’i was Malik’s disciple, and Ahmad ibn Hanbal was Shafi’i’s disciple.

    The school of jurisprudence of Malik was the counterpart to that of Abu Hanifa, for the latter often relied upon personal opinion and deduction, contrary to that of Malik, which was based more often on tradition and hadith.

    In any case, according to Ibn Khalkan's narration ‘Wafiyat ul-Ayan’ (v.3, p. 286), Malik, while on his death bed, was crying bitterly. He was afraid that he had passed judicial decrees based on his personal opinion in certain circumstances. He was crying, “I wish I had not given a decree according to my personal opinion. I am pleased to be lashed with whips for each of those individual opinions to be rid of the burden of these sins.”

    Among Malik's admirable qualities, was his belief in loyalty to Muhammad ibn Abdullah Mahaz, who was martyred for his refusal to pay allegiance to Banu Abbas, for the latter’s reign was mainly founded on violence. Malik did not decline to express his own opinion, nor did he fear the cruelty of the Banu Abbas dynasty. Thus, he was severely lashed with whips by the order of Ja'far ibn Sulayman Abbasi, the uncle of Saffah and Mansur, which actually increased people’s respect towards him, and enhanced his reputation and popularity among people. (Wafiat ul-Ayan, v. 3, p. 285).

    Since Malik was in Madinah, he often went to see Imam Al-Sadiq (as) and was of those who narrated the prophetic traditions from the Imam (as). According to the narration of Bihar (v. 11, p. 109) from the books Kisal, Alal ul-Shara’ya, and Amali of Saduq. When Malik was in the presence of Imam Al-Sadiq (as), the Imam (as) expressed his gratitude towards him, sometimes telling him, “I like you” and Malik was very pleased with the Imam’s (as) sympathy towards him.

    Malik, according to the book ‘Al-Imam al-Sadiq’ (p. 3), narrates these words, “For some time I used to visit Imam Al-Sadiq (as). I always noticed him praying, fasting or reciting the Holy Qur'an. No eyes witnessed, nor ears heard, nor hearts imagined a scholar more erudite than Ja'far ibn Muhammad in knowledge, piety and worship.”

    Malik says of Imam Al-Sadiq (as) in Bihar, “He was counted among the great in piety, virtue, fear of Allah and knowledge of Prophetic traditions. He was sociable and hospitable, and his audience was always full of grace. Whenever he heard the name of the Holy Prophet (S), his face turned pale.”

  • 2. Bihar ul-Anwar v. 11, p. 109.