The Etiquettes of Seeking Knowledge from the Life of Imam Malik (May Allah have Mercy on him).

The Etiquettes of Seeking Knowledge from the Life of Imam Malik (May Allah have Mercy on him).

All praise is for Allaah, Lord of all the Worlds, who ordered us to follow His Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and to call to His Way, and may Allaah send praises and blessings of peace upon our Prophet Muhammad (‎صلى الله عليه وسلم), and upon his family, his Companions, and those who truly follow them until the Day of Judgment.

Allah says in the Quran: Say, “Are equal those who know and those who (do) not know?” Only will take heed those of understanding.(39:9). The seeking of knowledge has been greatly stressed in our religion and it is obligatory on every Muslim to seek knowledge.

Imam Malik ( May Allah have mercy on him) is one of the greatest scholars of Islam. He is one of the Scholars who strived to attain the truth and stayed steadfast to it. A Seeker of Knowledge can learn a lot of etiquettes of seeking knowledge from his life.

Imam Malik was born in the Year 711 CE according to the most correct opinion[1]. His Great Grandfather Abu ‘Amir had accepted Islam and had migrated to Medina. This helped Imam Malik to live and die in one of the best lands and he sought his knowledge in Madina itself. He never travelled to seek knowledge due to his birth in the Treasure of Knowledge.

His Early Struggles in Seeking Knowledge

He started on seeking knowledge very early in his life. In his early days, his father had given a problem and he was unable to answer it, while his elder brother answered it. This really struck Imam Malik and he started to seek knowledge seriously. His mother also had a great role in inspiring him. She at once dressed Imam Malik and sent him to one of the scholars to learn only the etiquettes and manners of seeking knowledge. She asked him to observe the scholars before actually starting to take the knowledge[2].

The importance of etiquettes and manners can be seen from the above example. Nowadays, people especially the students of knowledge are too keen and enthusiastic in seeking knowledge, however before they actually start to take the knowledge, they forget to learn the etiquettes and the mannerisms of seeking knowledge.

Imam Malik also had memorized the Qura’n at an early age. It is highly beneficial for a child to start early in his seeking of knowledge. The Parents should imbibe the passion and zeal for knowledge in their children at a young age itself. If the Qura’n has been memorized at an early age, the seeking of knowledge will be more fruitful and beneficial.

His Choice of Local Scholars

There were many scholars under whom he could have studied and gained knowledge from. However, he gave preference to local scholars and did not travel to attain knowledge. Although, it is highly beneficial for a student of knowledge to travel and seek it, however, when he has responsibilities it is more better for him to seek the knowledge from the scholars around him, instead of leaving his home and forsaking the responsibilities.

His Perseverance

Imam Malik studied under various scholars and he would always persevere in seeking knowledge. Ibn Hurmuz was one of his teachers. He would very often go to his house and seek knowledge from him. He was a scholar who generally did not like to take students when his classes are over. However, Imam Malik used to go his home and learn beneficial knowledge of Islam. He even went to his teacher’s home on the day of Eid. His respect towards the value of time and his patience in seeking knowledge is noteworthy. [3]

A student of knowledge should also be patient and he should persevere in his quest of knowledge. He should not be lax in his attitude and should not have any hobbies which lead to his wastage of time.

His Steadfastness to the Truth

There are always trials and pitfalls in the life of a Taalibul Ilm. Imam Malik always was steadfast to the truth. He never gave into the whims and fancies of the rulers and was not a “Scholar for Dollars”. He was courageous and was prepared to face the consequences. It can be seen from an instance from his life. When the Governor of Madina demanded and forced people to give the allegiance Khalifa Al Mansour, by stating that one who would break the allegiance will automatically be divorced from his wives, then Imam Malik stood firm and gave a verdict that divorce under duress is not a valid divorce. Due to his steadfastness, he was publicly flogged and punished.

A student of knowledge should also be steadfast to the truth and not change his opinions based on his desires or under the force of others. He should wisdom and deal with the situation appropriately.

His Respect to Religious Verdicts

He always performed ablution and was always in a state of purity before he gave any religious verdict. [4] He clothed very well and presented himself to public and his students in a very presentable way.

Imam Malik was also reluctant to give any religious verdict. If he did not know any ruling, he would frankly say that he did not know.  A student of knowledge should not try to play smart to questions he doesn’t know. He should be honest and trustworthy and declare his ignorance when he doesn’t have any knowledge on any issue.

His Self Dependency

Imam Malik was self dependant when it came to earning money and maintaining a living. He used to have a business of textile partnering with his brother , who was also a scholar. He did not depend on others to meet his financial needs.

A student of knowledge should also try to be self dependant and have a source of income so that he can take care of himself and his family. He should not become a burden on others to take care of his needs and should work out a way in which he can meet the ends of his means.


The above are some of the etiquettes of knowledge from the Life of Imam Malik. A student of knowledge should read, understand and get inspired from the life of the righteous scholars and should try to implement all the etiquettes of knowledge.

We Pray to Allah(swt) that he grants us success in this world and the next.



[3] Early on during his search for knowledge his master Ibn Hurmuz asked his housemaid to look out as to who was at the door. She replied, “It is the blond boy Malik.” He was sitting at the door on a padding of folded cloth to escape the coldness of the stone (

[4] Ismael ibn abi Uwaiss said, “I asked my uncle Imam Malik – about something. He had me sit, made ablution, then said, ‘Laa hawla wala quwata illa billah.’ He did not give any fatwa without saying it first.” (


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