In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Mālikīs

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Primary Textbooks
  • Reference Works
  • Legal Genres and Substantial Growth
  • Mālikī Legal Works as Sources for Economic and Social History
  • Mālikīsm in the Context of the Modern Nation-State
  • The Impact of Mālikīsm in Christian Legal and Political Institutions

Islamic Studies Mālikīs
Delfina Serrano
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 July 2014
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195390155-0220


Mālikīs are the adherents of one of the four Sunni schools of law owing their name to the Medinese jurist and traditionist Malik b. Anas (d. AH 179 /795 CE). The main reference book to trace his teachings is a most reputed Hadith compilation called the Muwaṭṭa’, held not only as the foundational text of the Mālikī school but also as the earliest extant compilation of Islamic jurisprudence. From Medina, Mālikīsm spread to Egypt, Irak, Khurasan, Syria, Yemen, the Maghrib, al-Andalus and, much later, to Sudan and the Islamicized areas of sub-Saharan Africa. Nowadays, Mālikīsm is the prevalent legal school in Sudan, Morocco, Mauritania, Nigeria, and all the Islamicized areas of sub-Saharan Africa, with the exception of the Indic Ocean coastline. Mālikīsm coexists with Ibadi and Hanafi centers in Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya. Finally, there are some Mālikī groups in the Egyptian Sa`id, in the cities of Hijaz, and in the emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Mālikī legal methodology stands out for reliance on the practice (`amal) of Medina, a source of legislation either merging with prophetic tradition and consensus (ijma`) or embracing both pre-Islamic and Islamic practices established by the Righteous Caliphs as well as opinions of prominent Companions. The school doctrine underwent extensive reformulations from the 11th century CE onwards as a consequence of Mālikīs assimilation of usul al-fiqh methodology.

General Overviews

Mālikīs have not been the object of any comprehensive study joining together the institutional, political, intellectual, and socioeconomic aspects of their activities. None of these aspects have been treated separately from a general perspective either, with a few exceptions in which the fundamentals of the school doctrine are compiled serving the interests of colonial administrators (see López Ortiz 1932 and Surdon 1935; also see Arévalo 1939 (cited under Procedure and Penal Law), along with Pesle 1948, Quirós Rodríguez 1935, and Roussier-Theaux 1935 (cited under Property, Contracts, and Obligations) and Western legal practitioners (e.g. Santillana 1926–1938) more than those of legal historians, Cottart 1991 being the only, though limited, exception in this latter regard.

  • Cottart, Nicole. “Mālikiyya.” In Encyclopaedia of Islam. 2d ed. Vol. 6. Edited by C. E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, and Ch. Pellat, 278–283. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1991.

    An introductory overview on the sources, history, methodology, and literary output of the Mālikī legal school. The article suffers from a certain confusion between the legal and the judicial, compilation and codification, and Andalusi and Mālikī (e.g. Muhyi l-Din Ibn al-`Arabi was not a Mālikī but a Zahiri). Also, the author’s view as to the alleged intransigence of Western Mālikīsm is dated.

  • López Ortiz, José. Derecho musulmán. Barcelona: Labor, 1932.

    A concise manual focused on the Mālikī doctrine “which was in force in our Muslim Spain and is still prevalent in our Moroccan protectorate” (p. 11). Sharing with Santillana’s manual a Western thematic structure, Derecho musulmán has still not been superseded as the main Islamic law manual in Spanish.

  • Santillana, David. Istituzioni di Diritto musulmano Malikita con riguardo anche al sistema sciafiita. 2 vols. Rome: Instituto per l’Oriente, 1926–1938.

    Remains the most comprehensive treatment of Mālikī legal doctrine to date, and is thus an indispensable starting point for interested researchers. Draws on an extensive variety of sources and includes excellent thematic and onomastic indexes as well as a glossary.

  • Surdon, Georges. Précis élémentaire de droit musulman de l’École Malékite d’Occident. Tangier, Morocco: Editions Internationales, 1935.

    Summary of classical Mālikī doctrine according to sources produced in the premodern Islamic West, excluding ritual. Intended as a textbook for the teaching of Islamic law at the Institut des Hautes Études Marocaines. The final sections are dedicated to the specificities of shar`ia jurisdiction in Morocco during the French protectorate.

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