Translated by Mohammed Abdurrahman & Abdus Samad Clarke
This quote from one of the greatest authorities on hadith of all time is sufficient recommendation. The version of the Muwatta narrated by Imam Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Shaybani, one of the two leading pupils of Imam Abu Hanifah, directly from his three years of study with Imam Malik will be of particular interest not only to students of Hanafi fiqh, but also to students of hadith in general.
Imam Malik composed the Muwatta over a period of forty years to represent the "well-trodden path" of the people of Madina. Its name also means that it is the book that is "many times agreed upon" about whose contents the people of Madina were unanimously agreedand that is "made easy and facilitated". Its high standing is such that people of every school of fiqh and all of the imams of hadith scholarship agree upon its authenticity. Imam Shafii said, "There is not on the face of the earthafter the Book of Allaha book which is more sahih than the book of Malik." Shah Wali Allah Dihlawi (1114-1176 AH) said, "My breast expanded and I became certain that the Muwatta is the most sahih book to be found on the earth after the Book of Allah."
Imam Malik is the imam of the imams, the leader of the people of knowledge of Madinah, Malik ibn Anas ibn Malik ibn Abi Amir al-Asbahi al-Madani, born in 94 AH, 95 AH or even 99 AH. He was called the Man of Knowledge of Madina. People of knowledge understood that it was him the Prophet saw indicated in the hadith from Abu Hurayra, "People will soon beat the livers of their camels [in travelling in search of knowledge] but they will not find a man of knowledge more knowledgeable than the man of knowledge of Madina." Among his pupils were the Imams Sufyan ath-Thawri, Said ibn Mansur, Abdullah ibn al-Mubarak, Abd ar-Rahman al-AwzaI who was older than him, Layth ibn Sad who was one of his peers, Imam al-Shafii, Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Shaybani, the Malikis Abd ar-Rahman ibn al-Qasim, Yahya ibn Yahya al-Laythi, Ibn Wahb, and Dhun-Nun al-Misri. He died in 179 AH on the morning of the 14th of Rabi al-Awwal.