Dutton (Yasin), Early Islam in Medina. Malik and His Muwatta’, New-York, Bloomsbury, 2021, 160 p. ISBN 9781350261860
Yasin Dutton is Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, UK, and Emeritus Professor of Arabic Studies at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.
This book considers the transmission of the Sunna through the lens of the great Madinan legal scholar, Imam Malik ibn Anas (d. 179 AH/795 CE), in his renowned book al-Muwatta’, or ’The well-trodden path’. It considers not only the legal judgements preserved in this book, but also the key scholars involved in the transmission of these judgements, namely, Malik’s teachers and students. These different transmissions provide very strong evidence for the reliability of Malik’s transmission of the Sunna.
Overriding these textual considerations is the concept of ’amal, or the Practice of the People of Medina. This is accepted as a prime source by Malik and those following him, but is effectively rejected by the other schools, who prefer hadith (textual reports) as an indication of Sunna. Given the contested nature of ’amal in both ancient and modern times, and the general unawareness of it in contemporary Islamic studies, this source receives extended treatment here. This allows for a deeper understanding of the nature of Islamic law and its development, and, by extension, of Islam itself.
Table of contents
1. The Man and His Family
2. His Teachers
3. The Muwatta’ and Its Transmissions
4. The ’Amal of the People of Medina
5. Controversies, Ancient and Modern