Maliki school of thought refers to the application of Islamic law in accordance with the interpretation of Imam Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) and or that of his disciples. Maliki school was originally the School of the people of al-Madinah al-Munauwarah, the lighthouse and blessed city of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Madinah was the first capital city of the Muslim administration in the lifetime of the Prophet (peace be upon him), a status it retained throughout the era of the first three immediate Caliphs. It was reported that more than ten thousand (10,000) Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) out of twelve thousand (12,000) were concentrated in Madinah, while the remaining Muslim world shared the remaining two thousand (2,000).
Imam Malik spent the whole of his life in Madinah, acquired his knowledge from the disciples of the companions, taught in the prophetic mosque for over a period of forty (40) years. He was recognized as the leading scholar in Hadith and Fiqh, and later became the spiritual leader and mufti of Madinah. His understanding in Islam generally, the interpretations he gave to the Islamic law, and fatawa he gave in the religion of Allah were no doubt valuable to all scholars.
Maliki School therefore was essentially based on the understanding and practice of Islam in accordance with the method of the people of Madinah before and after Malik. That is why the school is often called 'the School of the Madinites'. Scholars concluded that the principles of Malik in fiqh was originally the principles of the people of Hijaz founded by Sa’eed ibn al-Musayyab (may Allah be pleased with him) the leader of the Tabi’un in his time and the Imam of Madinah.
Maliki School of thought deduced Islamic law from various source, some which are Naqliyyah (i.e. derived from divine sources e.g. the Qur'an and Hadith), while others are 'Aqliyyah (i.e. derived from rational reasoning). Below are the basic principles, elements or sources of the Maliki School of Thought, listed in the order of their importance:
1. The Qur’an.
2. The Sunnah.
3. Amal ahl al-Madinah- The practice of the Madinites.
4. Ijmaa of the Sahabah - Consensus of the Companions.
5. Fatwa al-Sahabi - Individual opinion of the Companions.
6. Qiyas - Analogical deduction.
7. Customs of the Madinites.
8. Istislah – welfare.
9. Urf al-'amm – Common Custom.
10. Sad al-zarai’e – Closign the doors of actions that might lead to the prepetration of the forbidden.
11. Mura’aat al-Khilaf – observance of differences of opinions.
(Philips; 1990: 71; Aba al-Khail; 1997: 127).
The Maliki School started in Madinah, and later spread to many places in the Muslim world. It is the second most widespread Muslim school of thought in the World. The first being the Hanafi School, is adopted by more than one third of the Muslim world. (Aba al- Khail;1997: 112). Below are the places or countries where Maliki school of thought applies, either in whole or in part:
Arabian Gulf States (Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Dubai and Abu Dhabi) Spain, East and West African countries (upper Egypt, the Sudan, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Mali, Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Senegal, Mauritania) Basra, Syria, Yemen etc.Today Maliki School is found in the US, France, UK and other few places in Europe and Asia. (Aba al-Khail; 1997: 137; Philips; 1990: 74).