Imam Malik and weak narrators?
Did Imam Malik narrate (ahadith) from weak narrators? We read statements from several scholars that:
– “Imam Malik never narrates except from the trustworthy narrators.” (Imam ‘Ali b. al-Madini)
– “Everyone whom imam Malik narrates from is trustworthy.” (Imam Ahmad b. Hanbal)
And there are more similar statements from the ‘ulama.
But we also read:
وقال يحيى بن معين كل من روي عنه مالك بن أنس فهو ثقة إلا عبد الكريم البصري أبو أمية ” تهذيب الكمال ”
And Yahya b. Ma’in said: “Whoever Malik b. Anas narrated from (him), (and he) is trustworthy, (or in another translation: Everyone from whom Malik ibn Anas narrates is a trustworthy narrator) except for ‘Abd al-Karim al-Basri Abu Umayyah”. (Tahdhib ul-Kamal) He was considered “matruk” (left / abandonded), which means: a narrator whose hadith transmission was discarded due to unreliability.
More info on ‘Abd al-Karim al-Basri Abu Umayyah we can read in at-Ta’liq al-Mumajjad, a commentary on the Muwatta of Imam Muhammad by shaykh ‘Abd al-Hayy al-Laknawi rahimahullah: ‘Abd al-Karim ibn Abi’l-Mukhariq. Two [narrators] are called ‘Abd al-Karim. (..) The second was Ibn Abi’l-Mukhariq whose kunya was Abu Umayyah, and he is to be abandonded, as is in al-Qawl al-Musaddad fi’dh-Dhibb ‘an Musnad Ahmad by Hafiz Ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalani. He said in at-Tamhid (by imam Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr): “He is weak, about which people of hadith are unanimous.” (..) his way of living deceived Malik [about his qualities as a narrator of hadith], for he was not one of the people of his town so that he could know him. He died in 126 AH or 127 AH. As-Suyuti said in Mirqat as-Su’ud: It is not sound in that which ‘Abd al-Karim ibn Abi’l-Mukhariq alone narrates to judge that he fabricated, because Malik narrated from him, and it is well known that it was his habit only to narrate from those he regarded as trustworthy narrators even if others discovered what necessarily required taking a critical view of him.
Imam Malik related several ahadith in the Muwatta (both most well-known versions of Imam Muhammad and al-Laythi) from ‘Abd al-Karim al-Basri Abu Umayyah.
He is not the only weak narrator (each differing in grade of weakness) imam Malik narrates from, there are more (about which some doubts have been raised), for example:
– Sharik b. Abi Namir / Numayr (although trustworthy according to Ibn Sa’id and Abu Dawud)
– ‘Asim b. ‘Ubayd Allah
– ‘Ata al-Khurasani (Imam al-Bukhari regarded him as weak although Yahya b. Ma’in and Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr disagreed with imam al-Bukhari)
– Dawud b. al-Husayn (although Yahya b. Ma’in regarded him as trustworthy)
Does this mean the Muwatta contains weak narrations? This question is answered here: http://english.islamweb.net/emainpage/index.php?page=showfatwa&Option=FatwaId&Id=274981 Although this fatwa is anonymous the information is correct as I have heard the same from my teacher. The different versions do have some mursal and mawquf ahadith, which technically means they are weak, and it has some balaghat, but those issues have been resolved by later scholars.