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Thursday, July 30, 2015
Why we haven't been haggling over the Muwatta'
Several collections of Malik's lectures on fiqh, variously collected as "the Muwatta'", have survived to today. The famous one - translated by, e.g., Bewley (faithfully) and Rahimuddin (badly) - is Laythi's, in Spain. Through the 1990s there were "revisionists" who suspected that the whole thing was composed there (that is, it is "Andalusian") and that a parallel text, Sahnun's Mudawwana, is the true core of "Maliki" teachings. Apparently this was a thing back then; Norman Calder had been hawking this meme. I hadn't known.
By the time I got started on the fiqh, in 2004ish, I'd already been well-acquainted with the "revisionists" elsewhere... but not, really, with the Muwatta' revisionists. On most topics I'd checked out Islamic Awareness first and found where they had put various suspicions to rest. Muwatta' revisionism was one of those topics. What clinched me on the Muwatta's authenticity was that its hadiths got quoted all around the place - and that Malik's "Hanafi" student Shaybani in Iraq had taken it upon himself to compose an antiMuwatta'. Clearly Malik's work was a big deal, even before he'd finished it. It wasn't some screed composed in a reactionary Umayyad hinterland.
Wael Hallaq has reprinted his own contribution to the debate, here. Hallaq doesn't deal with the other recensions, nor with Shaybani; he's sticking with the relationship between the Mudawwana and the Laythi-Muwatta'.
Real scholars didn't (then) much bother with Islamic Awareness. But they did read Hallaq. Either way, the revisionism over the Muwatta' had got quietly ignored by the mid 2000s.
UPDATE 10:30 PM: Shaybani's (anti)Muwatta' was translated in 2004. According to Amazon,
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