“Introduction to the English Translation of the Muwatta’ of Imam Malik b. Anas, Recension of Yahya b. Yahya al-Laythi (Royal Moroccan Edition, 2013),” Mālik b. Anas, al-Muwaṭṭaʾ — Recension of Yaḥyā b. Yaḥyā al-Laythī (d. 234/848), edited and translated by Mohammad Fadel, University of Toronto Faculty of Law, and Connell Monette, American Academy Casablanca.
The Muwatta’ of Malik b. Anas (d. 795 CE) is the first written treatise of Islamic law. This is the introduction to the forthcoming translation of this foundational work of Islamic law. It represents the apogee of Islamic law in its earliest phase — when Islamic law was still associated with particular regions and before Islam became a cosmopolitan religion. The legal doctrines set forth in the Muwatta’ would form the basis of what would later be known as the Maliki school of law, one of four surviving Sunni schools of law. It came to dominate the legal culture of Muslim Spain (Andalusia), North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and much of Egypt. This introduction gives the reader an overview of the contents of the book, an introduction to the historiographical controversies surrounding the work, and an interpretation of the work’s principal jurisprudential theories. The translation should be of interest to historians of law, early historians of Islam, historians of Late Antiquity in the Mediterranean region, and of course, specialists in Islamic legal history.