'Abdu'l-Malik ibn Habib as-Sulami

(d. 238/852)
Maliki jurist of Cordoba, author of al-Wadiha

His kunya was Abu Marwan. His father was known as Habib al-'Attar." Ibn al-Fardi said, "It is said that he was one of the clients of Sulaym." Ibn Harith said, "He was one of them (Sulaym)." Someone said, "Habib used to press and extract oils."

They originated from Toledo. His grandfather Sulayman later moved to Cordoba. Thefamily moved to Albira during the revolt of ar-Rabad.

He related from Sa'sa'a ibn Salam, al-Ghazi ibn Qays and Ziyad ibn 'Abdu'r-Rahman in Andalusia.

He travelled in 208, or 207. He listened to Ibn al-Majishun, Mutarrif, Ibrahim ibn al-Mundhir, 'Abdullah ibn Nafi' az-Zubayri, Ibn Abi Uways, 'Abdullah ibn 'Abdul-Hakam, 'Abdullah ibn al-Mubarak, al-Khuzami, Asbagh ibn al-Faraj, Asad ibn Musa, and a group of others. He went to Andalusia in 210 and amassed a lot of knowledge.

Ibn Harith said, "He lived in the town of Albira. His renown in knowledge and transmission spread and the Amir 'Abdu'r-Rahman ibn al-Hakam transferred him to Cordoba and made him one of the muftis there. He and Yahya ibn Yahya, their leader, undertook consultation and debate, but relations between the two of them were very bad indeed."

Someone else said, "Yahya died before him, and 'Abdu'l-Malik alone was leader for a time."

His two sons, Muhammad and 'Abdullah, Sa'id ibn Numayr, Ahmad ibn Rashid, Ibrahim ibn Khalid, Ibrahim ibn Shu'ayb, and Muhammad ibn Fatis listened to him. Mutarrif ibn Qays, Baqi ibn Makhlad, Ibn Waddah and al-Maghami along with the scholars of the people of Cordoba as well as others. Al-Maghami was the last to them to die.

Concerning his position in knowledge and his praise by the excellent

Ibn al-Fardi said, "'Abdu'l-Malik knew fiqh according to the school of Malik. He was outstanding in it, although he did not have knowledge or hadith nor recognition of the sound in it from the weak."

He mentioned that when he travelled, 'Isa said, "He has more fiqh than the one from whom he wants to take knowledge."

Someone said, "I saw him leave the mosque and about 300 followed him. They were students of hadith, shares of inheritance, fiqh and Arabic inflection."

There were 30 circles ranged around him every day. He did not have anything read to him in them except his own words and the Muwatta' of Malik.

He said, "I rebuked him for his approach in the lack of wealth. He said to me, 'Ibn Hazim was asked, 'What is your wealth?' He replied, 'Two wealths: contentment with what I have and despair about what is the hands of other people.' I say that I have two wealths: wealth in my outward business and endeavour as the property of my self.'"

Az-Zubayri mentioned that his death was announced to Sahnun and he said, "We belong to Allah and to Him we return." Then he said, "The man of knowledge of Andalusia has died. Rather, by Allah, the man of knowledge of this world." By this refuted the one who related something different than this.

Ash-Shirazi mentioned him as "The faqih of Andalusia."

Ibn al-Fardi also mentioned him in his book on the Tabaqat of the Men of Literature. He made him one of the foremost of them. He said, "This was in addition to his imamate in fiqh, thorough knowledge of literature and versatility in it and in the varieties of knowledge. He was a faqih, mufti, grammarian, linguist, genealogist, historian, pre-eminent prosodist, excellent, proficient poet of free expression, and a versatile writer."

One of the shaykhs mentioned that when he came from Egypt in his journey, he met a group of its people coming out to meet the group of people as was their custom. Whenever a man faced them with a good appearance and look, they began to give opinions about him and they would judge by their perspicacity about him until they saw him. He had a beautiful appearance. Some people said, "This is a faqih." Others said, "He is a poet." Still others said, "A doctor." Others said, "An orator." When their argument lasted for a long time, they went up to him and told them about their dispute regarding him. They asked him about who he was. He said to them, "All of you were right and all you stated is excellent. Experience unveils experience and the test reveals man."

When he finished his journey and met the people, his report became famous and all people with knowledge went to him to ask him about his art, and he would answer him with a pertinent answer. They were amazed at the sureness of his knowledge.

Ibn Harith mentioned that Ibn al-Mawwaz praised him for knowledge and fiqh.

Ibrahim ibn Qasim used to say, "May Allah have mercy on 'Abdu'l-Malik. He defended the words of Malik, even if he differed with him in part. He only took himself to the truth and only took what was correct."

Al-'Utbi said (and he mentioned al-Wadiha), "May Allah have mercy on 'Abdu'l-Malik. I do not know anyone who wrote a book on the people of Madina nor anything more useful for a student than his books nor any choice better than his."

One of them said, "I sailed to Andalusia with Ibn Habib. The sea terrified us and we feared we would be wrecked. I saw Ibn Habib hanging to the ship's ropes saying, 'O Allah, if You know that I desire Your face by what I have sought and what I have, then save us by Your mercy, and benefit Your slaves by what I have brought.' It was only a short time before the sea became calm and we arrived safely. Praise be to Allah."

Concerning His Books

Ibn Habib wrote many excellent books on fiqh, history and literature. They include the book called al-Wadiha on the sunan and fiqh. The like of it has never been written. There is al-Jawami', The Book of the Virtues of the Companions, The Book of Gharib Hadith, a commentary on the Muwatta', The Book of the Wars of Islam, The Book of the Two Mosques, The Book of the Behaviour of the Imams with the Heretics, the Book of the Generations of the Fuqaha' and Followers, and the Book of the Lamps of Guidance.

One of them said that Ibn al-Fardi named these books and these names but they are all part of one book because Ibn Habib wrote his book in ten parts. The first was the commentary on the Muwatta' (except the General Chaper). The second was the commentary on the General Chapter, and the third, fourth and fifth were on the hadiths of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, the Companions and the Tabi'un. The Book of the Lamps of Guidance was part of it. In it he mentioned things from the Companions and the Tabi'un. The tenth was the Generations of the Fuqaha'. It was the weakest of his books.

The books of Ibn Habib included: The Book of the Inflection of the Qur'an, The Book of the Sum of Illnesses, The Book of the Shares of Inheritance, The Book of Generosity, and the use of what is good, and the Book of the Dislike of Singing."

Someone asked 'Abdu'l-Malik, "How many books have you written?" He said, "1050 books."

'Abdu'l-Malik ibn Mu'alla said, "Have you seen any books which evoke love of worship of Allah Almighty in His creatures and acquaint them with it like the books of 'Abdu'l-Malik ibn Habib?" He meant his words about stimulation for desire and fear.

Concerning what was used against him

One of them said, "The fuqaha' used to envy 'Abdu'l-Malik ibn Habib because of his precedence over them in knowledges which they did not know and had not even begun."

Abu Muhammad al-Qal'i said, "I asked Wahb ibn Maysara about the words of Ibn Waddah on Ibn Habib. He said, "He did not say good or evil about him except that he did say that he had not listened to Asad."

Ibn al-Fardi said, "Ibn Habib did not have knowledge of hadith. He did not know what was sound from what was weak in it." He mentioned that he was lax in his oral transmission and transmitted more by means of ijaza than by way of riwaya.

Ibn Waddah said, "Al-Khuzami said to me, 'You companion, Ibn Habib, came to me with a sack filled with books. He said, 'This is your knowledge for which you have given me an ijaza.' I said to him, 'Yes.' He did not read a word of it to me and I did not read it to him.'"

Ibn Abi Maryam said, "Ibn Habib stayed with us in Egypt and I did not see anyone who was more constant than him in books. I came to him at midday in the intense heat and he was sitting on a couch and he had a long hat on. I said, 'A hat in the like of this heat?' He replied,'They are our crowns.' I said, 'What are these books? When did you read these out?' He said, 'I did not occupy myself with reading them. Their author gave me an ijaza for them.' I left him and I went to Asad. I said, 'Shaykh! Do you forbid us to read to you while you give an ijaza to someone else?' He said, 'I do not think that there is reading, so how would I give the ijaza? He took my books from me which he wrote in order to refute them against me.'"

Qadi 'Iyad said, "Malik, may Allah have mercy on him, spoke to the one who asked him about the hadiths which he had written from the hadiths of Ibn Shihab for Yahya ibn Sa'id al-Ansari saying, 'Did he read them to you?' He replied, 'He has more fiqh than that,' i.e. the like of this one does not need to read them out."

Concerning the best of his reports, virtues and rare poems

They mentioned that it was put before the Amir 'Abdu'r-Rahman ibn al-Hakam that his qadi Ibrahim ibn al-'Abbas al-Marwani, Yahya ibn Yahya, and a group were plotting to depose him and to put Ibrahim in his place and that the Qqadi did not accept any of the people of Cordoba except those whom Yahya indicated should be accepted. Yahya was the one who indicated to the amir to appoint him qadi and that Zunan be his scribe. The Amir sent to Ibn Habib and said to him, "You know my hand is with you and I want to ask you about something, so tell me the truth about it." He said, "Yes. I will speak the truth about any question you put to me." He said to him, "Information has come to me that Yahya and the Qadi are working against us in this matter." Ibn Habib said to him, "The Amir knows what is between Yahya and me, yet I will only speak the truth about him. What comes from Yahya is the same as what comes from me. All that is raised against him is false. As for the Qadi, the Amir must make him share in his justice with the one with whom he shares in his lineage." So the qadi was dismissed.

He mentioned that one of Ibn Habib's neighbours complained to him that one of the agents of the wazirs was injuring him and was overbearing to him. 'Abdu'l-Malik commanded that he be brought to him and the man was given a severe flogging in his presence. He then complained to his master who wrote to Yahya and mentioned what Ibn Habib had done to his elite men and retinue. He asked him to support him against him in the presence of the amir. Yahya wrote to him, "We will not help you against knowledge and its people. By Allah, our pens go further than your arrows, so leave your opinion. peace."

He mentioned that when he wanted to travel, he asked 'Isa ibn Dinar to give him advice on his method in his journey. 'Isa said to him, "When you come to a man of knowledge, you should not show what you have so that you will be forbidden what he has."


Al-Maghami said, "I came to 'Abdu'l-Malik ibn Habib one day in the darkness before day desiring to learn from him. I asked for permission to enter and he gave me permission and I entered. There he was sitting in his place, engrossed in the books which surrounded him. He was looking at them and the candle was burning before him. He was wearing his long hat. I greeted him and he returned the greeting to me. He said to me, 'Yusuf, is it Subh?' I replied, 'Yes, we have already prayed.' He got up for the Subh prayer and performed it. Then he went back to his seat and said to me, 'Yusuf, I prayed this prayer with the wudu' from the final night-prayer.'"

Al-Maghami said, "Ibn Habib had a jug into which frankincense and honey were melted. He would drink some of it every morning on an empty stomach for memory."


Ibn Habib died in Dhu'l-Hijja, 238 or 239. He was 56. Ash-Shirazi said that he was 53. His grave is located in the cemetery of Umm Salama in front of the Masjid ad-Diyafa. According to Ibn al-Fardi, Qadi Ahmad ibn Ziyad prayed over him. Someone else said that his son Yahya prayed over him.

Muhammad ibn Harith said, "He died in 237 six months into the reign of Amir Muhammad."

He was survived by two sons: Muhammad and 'Ubaydullah.

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