Unavoidable Commentary Serving the Research
Anyone who examines this cordial meeting between Imam Malik and the oppressive caliph Abu Ja`far al-Mansour, and who studies their dialogue, will deduct the following conclusions:
FIRST: We notice that the Abbaside caliph deposed his governor over Medina, cousin and closest of kin, insulting him after having deposed him, then apologized to Imam Malik because of his governor's conduct, swearing by Allah that it was not ordered by him, nor did he know about it beforehand, nor was he pleased when he came to know about it.
All this underscores the harmony between both men and the status enjoyed by Imam Malik with Abu Ja`far al-Mansour to the extent that he met him alone wearing casual clothes and seated him in a way in which he never seated anyone else, so much so that even his son was frightened, and he retreated, upon seeing Malik's knees touching his father's.
SECOND: We can draw another conclusion from al-Mansour's statement to Malik: “The people of the two holy shrines will continue to be blessed so long as you are among them, and I think you are for them a security against Allah's torment and might, and Allah did, indeed, shun through your own person a momentous calamity” that might have befallen them had they contemplated staging a rebellion against the caliph and his oppressive authority.
Imam Malik had, in fact, calmed them, quelling their revolution, issuing a number of verdicts such as his saying that they were obligated to obey Allah, His Messenger, and the waliyy al-amr, the governor in this instance. Thus were people reluctant to rise against their caliph, and thus did Allah, through such a verdict, shun a genocide involving the caliph.1 For this reason, al-Mansour said to Malik, “They are, as far as I know, the most swift people to dissenting and the weakest to bear the consequences; may Allah fight them whenever they plan a scheme.”
THIRD: The caliph was recommending Malik to be the scholar looked up to in all Islamic lands then forcing his sect on people and obliging them to follow it through the carrot and the stick. A reference to his enticing methods was his statement, “... so that we may oblige people, Insha-Allah, to follow your knowledge, and we will disseminate your books in all lands and make sure that nobody disagrees with their contents nor judge except according to them,” and that they should send their envoys and messengers to him during the pilgrimage.
A clue referring to his methods of intimidating people to follow him is his statement: “The people of Iraq will be made to do it, and we will strike their heads with the sword and split their spines with our whips.” This statement indicates the extent of persecution meted to the poor Shi`as then at the hands of oppressive rulers who were persecuting and killing them in order to force them to abandon their allegiance to the Imams from Ahlul Bayt and to follow Malik and his likes.
FOURTH: We notice that Imam Malik and Abu Ja`far al-Mansour were subscribing to the same tenets and biases towards certain sahaba rather than others, and to their allegiance to the caliphs who had taken control of the caliphate by intimidation and persecution. Malik has said in this regard, “Then he discussed knowledge and jurisprudence with me, and I found him to be the most knowledgeable of all people about what is agreed upon and the most informed of their disagreements, etc.”
There is no doubt that Abu Ja`far al-Mansour reciprocated the same views held by Malik whom he complimented in a statement he had previously made to him during a meeting between both of them which took place before this one; said he then, “By Allah! I do not find anyone more knowledgeable than the commander of the faithful or more acquainted with fiqh.” By the “commander of the faithful” he meant, of course, himself.
From the above text we can understand that Imam Malik was a Nasibi: He never recognized the caliphate of the Commander of the Faithful Ali ibn Abu Talib at all. We have proven from the above that they all objected when Ahmad ibn Hanbal added the name of Ali to the list of the “righteous caliphs,” making him the fourth. It is quite obvious that Malik died many years before the birth of Ahmad ibn Hanbal.
Add to the above the fact that Malik relied, while transmitting hadith, on Abdullah ibn Umar, the Nasibi who used to say that they never regarded anyone during the lifetime of the Prophet as being equal to Abu Bakr, then Umar, then, Uthman, and that the sahaba beyond that were all alike! Abdullah ibn Umar ranks as the most prominent among the narrators of hadith whom Malik quotes. Most traditions quoted in Malik's Al-Mawta are actually his. So is Malik's jurisprudence.
FIFTH: We notice that the politics which were based on oppression and injustice sought the support of the public through verdicts favorable to them written without any support from Qur'anic texts the texts of the Prophet's Sunnah. For example, al-Mansour, as indicated above, said to Malik, “Organize your knowledge and write it down, and arrange what you write in book form, and avoid the extremism of Abdullah ibn Umar and the tolerance of Abdullah ibn Abbas and the oddities of Abdullah ibn Mas`ud, and seek common grounds, and whatever the Imams and the sahaba, may Allah be pleased with them, had all agreed upon, so that we may oblige people, Insha-Allah, to follow your knowledge, and we will disseminate your books..., etc.”
This clearly shows that the sect followed by “Ahlul Sunnah wal Jama`a” is but a mixture of “the extremism of Abdullah ibn Umar, the tolerance of Abdullah ibn Abbas, and the oddities of Abdullah ibn Mas`ud” in addition to whatever Malik recommended as “common grounds” among the “Imams,” namely Abu Bakr, Umar, and Uthman, and what was agreed upon by the sahaba with whom caliph Abu Ja`far al-Mansour was pleased... It has none of the Sunnah of the Prophet which is derived from the traditions narrated by the Purified Imams of the Progeny of the Prophet some of whom were contemporaries to al-Mansour and Malik, and whom the said caliph isolated and murdered.
SIXTH: It is noticeable that the first book documenting the Sunnah as excerpted from selected traditions narrated by the Prophet's companions, and by those who learned from the latter, is Al-Mawta by Imam Malik, and it was written according to the order issued by the caliph himself so that the latter might force people to accept it and to strike their heads with the swords if need be, according to al-Mansour.
Such traditions, in this case, were bound to be among the ones manufactured by the Umayyads and Abbasides to serve their interests and strengthen their influence and authority, and to distance people from Islamic facts conveyed by the Prophet of Mercy.
SEVENTH: We also notice that Imam Malik was apprehensive ONLY of the people of Iraq because they were avowed supporters of Ali ibn Abu Talib, people whose minds had absorbed his knowledge and fiqh, people who dedicated their religious following to the Purified Imams from his offspring, affording no face value whatsoever to Malik and his likes because they knew that these men were Nasibis who used to flatter the rulers and sell their religion for a dirham or a dinar.
This is why Malik said to the caliph, “... but the people of Iraq disagree with our knowledge and they do not feel obligated to do what we do,” and al-Mansour, with his typical arrogance, responded by saying, “The people of Iraq will be made to do it, and we will strike their heads with the sword and split their spines with our whips.”
This tells us how those sects, which the ruling authorities had invented and on which they placed the label of “Ahlul Sunnah wal Jama`a,” came to be. What is really strange is that you see Abu Hanifah in disagreement with Malik, and Malik in disagreement with Abu Hanifah, and both men in disagreement with both al-Shafi`i and al-Hanbali, while the latter is in disagreement with one another and with the other two!
There is hardly one single issue upon which all four men agree except very rarely, yet they all are regarded as “Ahlul Sunnah wal Jama`a,” followers of the Sunnah and the consensus! What consensus is it?! Is it Maliki consensus, or is it Hanafi, Shafi`i, or Hanbali?! It actually is neither this nor that; rather, it is the consensus of Mu`awiyah ibn Abu Sufyan, for they are the ones who agreed with the latter when he made the cursing of Ali ibn Abu Talib from the pulpits a “Sunnah” followed for more than eighty years...
And why do they accept their disagreements, while their fatwa views are so diverse with regard to one and the same issue, yet they call their disagreement “a mercy” so long as it was confined to the four sects, but when another mujtahid disagrees with them, they charge him with kufr and excommunicate him from Islam?!
Why do they not regard their disagreement with the Shi`as in the same light whereby they see the differences among themselves, had they only been fair and wise? But the Shi`as' crime cannot be forgiven because they prefer Ali ibn Abu Talib over all other sahaba, and this is the basis of the disagreement which “Ahlul Sunnah wal Jama`a” cannot tolerate. It cannot be tolerated by those who agree on one single issue: the exclusion of Ali from the caliphate, and the hiding of his merits and the facts related thereto.
EIGHTH: We notice how the rulers who confiscated the Muslims' wealth by force and oppression distribute such wealth generously to evil scholars who seek to be close to them in order to win their support and to barter their conscience and creed for the life of this world. Malik has said, “Then he [al-Mansour] ordered a thousand dinars in gold to be given to me in addition to a great outfit and another thousand for my son, etc.”
Such an admission by Malik is self-indicting, and there may be many similar incidents which are not discussed in public because Malik used to feel embarrassed of receiving gifts in public and hated to see people noticing him accepting them; this is clear from his statement: “When the eunuch put that outfit on my shoulder, I leaned to avoid it, trying to disclaim it;” so, when al-Mansour noticed that, he ordered the eunuch to carry it for Malik to where the latter's camel was tied so that people might not know about it.
- 1. There is no contradiction between his verdict prohibiting the securing of allegiance by force and his mandating obedience to the ruler, and they have, indeed, narrated many “traditions” supporting their viewpoint such as: “Whoever disobeys the ruler and dies disobeying him, his death will be the death of the days of jahiliyya.” Another tradition they narrate says: “You are required to hear and obey even if the ruler takes your wealth and whips your back.”