Did Imam Mālik ibn Anas Believe That Jesus (AS) Died?
Imam Malik ibn Anas is reported to have said, according to a literal misunderstanding of the text “Jesus died (مات) when he was 33 years old.” (Jami’ al-’Utbiyyah)
Imam Muhammad ibn Rushd, The Grandfather, said in commentary of this, “He meant by the usage of the verb (مات) him being raised up to the heavens by Allah.” just as the word (توفى) can be used to mean
1. To cause to die.
2. To cause to raise (Quran, 3:55).
3. To take.
4. To Return.
Similarly the verb (مات) can mean
1. To die.
2. Can be used interchangeably with the word (توفى) and carry its meanings.
3. To settle.
Hypothetically if the word (مات) was used to mean death, then we cannot accept this narration for the following reasons:
1. The author of, “Jami’ al-’Utbiyyah.” named his book as, “The Removed Opinions.” (The History of the Scholars of Muslim Spain. Ibn al-Fardhi. V2. Pg. 630)
2. “Jami’ al-’Utbiyyah/The Removed Opinions.” was compiled to gather opinions that are strange, not to be practiced upon. Whenever he was given a bizarre opinion and he heard it, he would place it in his book, "The Removed Opinions.” (The History of the Scholars of Muslim Spain. Ibn al-Fardhi. V2. Pg. 630)
3. The book has an extremely weak chain of narration. Imam Abu Bakr ibn al-Arabi al-Maliki said, “The chain of the “Jami’ al-’Utbiyyah.” is not authentic, it is not transmitted orally, it has been only gathered from different parchments from houses.” (A’aridah al-Ahdawi/Commentary on Sunan at-Tirmidhi. V5. Pg. 263-264)
4. The book is filled with lies and opinions with no basis. Imam ibn Abdul Hakm (A student of Imam Malik ibn Anas and a contemporary of the author himself) said, “I consider most of it to be lies and opinions that have no basis, it is deception in a place where deception should not be, and the love of strange opinions is a disease in some souls.” (Ar-Radd ala Adnan Ibrahim)
5. This narration has no argumentative weight, whatsoever. ‘Allamah Zahid al-Kawthari al-Hanafi in his introduction to Shaykh Ghumari’s book, “Al-Burhan.” said, “There is no excuse, for the one deviates by saying, ”Jesus died.” using as proof the narration of the “Jami’ al-’Utbiyyah.” from Imam Malik ibn Anas, May Allah be pleased with him, as the narration is not authentic and thereby does not qualify to oppose, and it has no source to back it up as the Quran & Sunnah and Ijma’ are in opposition to it. These are towering mountains of evidences against it.”