Muhammad ibn Ismail al-Bukhari
, popularly known as Al-Bukhari
) or Imam Bukhari
(810-870), was a famous Sunni Islamic scholar
ancestry, most known for authoring the hadith collection
named Sahih Bukhari
, a collection which Sunnis regard as the most authentic (Arabic: Sahih
) of all hadith compilations.
His full name is Muhammad Ibn Ismail Ibn Ibrahim Ibn al-Mughirah Ibn Bardizbah al-Bukhari (Arabic: محمد بن اسماعيل بن ابراهيم بن المغيرة بن بردزبه البخاري).
Early life (810-820)
Bukhari was born in July 20 810
13, 194 AH
) in the city of Bukhara
(which was a part of Iran
at that time), in what is today Uzbekistan
. His father, Ismail Ibn Ibrahim
, was a known hadith scholar that died while Bukhari was young
Sunnis praise his memory, saying he was:
- endowed by nature with great intellectual powers, although he was physically frail. He possessed a sharp and photographic memory, and a great tenacity of purpose, which served him well in his academic life.
Sunnis also state that he developed a power and speed of memory which seemed miraculous, even to his contemporaries . When Imam Bukhari was still young he went to attend a hadith lesson. When the students noticed that many days passed and he had nothing written down, they asked about it. He replied to them to read him all the hadiths they have written down. At the end of reading him 15,000 hadith, Imam Bukhari repeated every word by memory and answered, "Do you still think that I come here for nothing or I am wasting my time?". It is said by the age of ten, Imam Bukhari had memorised 70,000 hadith by heart with their complete chain of narrations going from him to his teacher, and his teacher's teacher, all the way to the Prophet Muhammad. .
Early education (820-826)
He underwent his early education under the guidance of his mother in his native city and by the age of eleven he finished his elementary studies and started to study hadith
During those studies, he at one time he corrected one of his teachers, who laughed at the audacity of the young student. Bukhari persisted and referred to the books, who showed him to be correct. At the age of sixteen, he had learned the knowledge of all the scholars of hadith of Bukhara, as well as everything contained in the books which were available to him.
Arabian peninsula travels
At age of sixteen, he, together with his brother and widowed mother made the pilgrimage to Mecca
. From there he made a series of travels in order to increase his knowledge of hadith. He went through all the important centres of Islamic learning of his time, talked to scholars and exchanged information on hadith. It is recorded that he stayed at Basrah
for four or five years, and in the Hijaz
for six; while he travelled to Egypt
twice and to Kufah
When the authorities in Basrah received information of his arrival, they fixed a time for him to deliver a lecture. At the lecture, he was able to confine himself only to such Hadith as he had received on the authority of the early Hadith scholars of Basrah, and had nonetheless been unknown to the audience.
While in Baghdad, he was tested by ten Hadith scholars. They changed the Isnad and text of one hundred hadith, and asked Bukhari about them during a public meeting. He said that he was not familiar with those hadith, recited the un-changed versions and said that they had probably inadvertently recited them wrongly. This was repeated by four hundred scholars in Samarkand.
Travels in the Islamic world
Already, in his eighteenth year, he had devoted himself to the collection, study, proof-reading, organizing (arrangement) of traditions
(Hadiths). For that purpose he travelled all over the Islamic world
, all the way to Egypt
, and Iraq
, seeking hadith narrators and listening to them. It is said that he heard from over 1,000 men, and learned over 600,000 traditions, both authentic and rejected ones, and thus became the acknowledged authority on the subject After sixteen years' absence he returned to Bukhara, and there drew up his al-Jami' al-Sahih
, a collection of 7,275 tested traditions, arranged in chapters so as to afford bases for a complete system of jurisprudence
without the use of speculative law, (see Islamic Law
). His book is highly regarded among Sunni
Muslims, and considered the most authentic collection of hadith (a minority of Sunni scholars consider Sahih Muslim, compiled by Bukhari's student Imam Muslim
, more authentic). Most Sunni scholars consider it second only to the Qur'an in terms of authenticity. He also composed other books, including al-Adab al-Mufrad
, which is a collection of hadiths on ethics
and manners, as well as two books containing biographies of hadith narrators (see isnad
Last years (864-870)
At the age of 54, in the year 864 CE (250 AH
), he came to the great Central Asian
city of Neyshabour(Nishapur
). He received a "grand reception" , wished to settle down there and devoted himself to teaching hadith.
It was in Neyshabour that he met Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj. He would be considered his student, and eventually author of Sahih Muslim.
Khalid ibn Ahmad al-Dhuhali summoned Bukhari to hold lectures at his palace, but Bukhari declined. This resulted in Bukhari being obliged to leave the town, and he travelled to Khartank, a village near Bukhara, at the request of its inhabitants. He settled there and died in the year 870 CE (256 AH), 62 years old.
Sunni sources portray that his collection of hadith became sort of an obsession of his. He used all of his money to travel, and at one occasion, he was so short of money that he lived on wild herbs for three days.
On one occasion, it is said that he was travelling on a boat and had 500 gold coins with him to get him through his journey. While at sea, one of the people on the boat saw his money, and out of greed, he began screaming "I had 500 gold coins and someone has stolen it". At that moment, Imam Bukhari threw his 500 gold coins in to the ocean. The whole boat was searched and no coins were found. After arriving at their destination, the man asked Imam Bukhari, "what did you do with the money?", he replied, "I threw it in the ocean". Out of shock the man asked why. Imam Bukhari replied, "I am compiling a book of the hadith of the Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him), I cannot allow anything to damage my reputation and discredit me".
position was conservative and anti-Mu'tazili
; he enjoyed the friendship and respect of Ahmad Ibn Hanbal
, and was persecuted because he held to Ibn Hanbal's Athari
views in matter of Aqidah
, especially that the Qur'an
is not created. His positions on Fiqh
issues appear to have been Shafi'i
and he has been verified by notable scholars (Ibn Hajar, Imam Subki) as a Shafi'ite.
He is also said to a have been a very good archer, gaining skill as a recreation. His Amanuensis
is said to have written that Bukhari "often went out to practice his aim, and only twice during his sojourn with him did he see him miss the mark.".
His repeated trials and triumphs won him recognition as the greatest Hadith scholar of his time by all the major authorities with whom he came in contact, including Ahmad Ibn Hanbal
, Ali ibn al-Madini
, Abu Bakar ibn Abi Shaybah
, Ishaaq Ibn Raahawayh
, and others.
Sunni Muslims view him as one of the greatest scholars of Islam, a great man for whose work the world's Muslims have a lot in debt.
Sunni sources describe him thus:
- Mahmud ibn Nasr reported: "I went to Basra, Syria, the Hijaz, and Kufa and met scholars there. Whenever Bukhari was mentioned, every one of them stated he was better."
- Ibn Khuzaymah said: "I have never seen under the sun one more learned in the hadiths of the Prophet, upon him be peace, than Muhammad ibn Isma'il al Bukhari"
- Throughout his life, al-Bukhaaree displayed the character of a devout and pious Muslim scholar. He was rigorous in the observance of his religious duties, ensuring that rather than relying on charity he always lived by means of trade, in which he was scrupulously honest. Once he lost ten thousand dirhams on account of a minute scruple. A good deal of his income, in fact, was spent on helping the students and the poor. It is said that he never showed an ill-temper to anyone, even when there was more than sufficient cause; nor did he bear ill-will against anybody. Even towards those who had caused his exile from Nishapur, he harboured no grudge.
A memorial complex containing a mausoleum was erected over his grave in 1998.
Generally, the Shi'a view on Bukhari is that he strove to preserve Islam and consider this a commendable effort.
Shi'a point out to other Sunni scholars whom they feel did not have this bias, for example, Bukharis student Imam Muslim
, who included the hadith of the two weighty things
(a controversial hadith whose interpretation is contested among Sunnis and Shi'as) in his Sahih Muslim
, and also Sunni scholars that had the opposite view. For example, Hakim al-Nishaburi
included a very high number of pro-Ahl al-Bayt hadith in his book entitled Al-Mustadrak alaa al-Sahihain
, some hadith of which he claimed fulfilled Bukharis criteria of authenticity. Hakim however was accused by some of Shi'ism, and of including spurious narrations whilst declaring them sound — such that Sunni scholar adh-Dhahabi
, author of Talkhis al-Mustadrak
(an overview of the hadith in Hakim's book), lamented: "It would have been better if al-Hakim had never compiled it. Another example would include Ali al-Hamdani
, the author of Mawaddat al-Qurba
- Al-Jami' al-Sahih (الجامع الصحيح), also known as Sahih Bukhari
- Al Adab Al Mufrad الأدب المفرد- Book discussing the character and manners of the Prophet.
- al-Tarikh al-Kabir, The big history, containing biographies of narrators, with a rating of each
- al-Tarikh al-Saghir - The Little History, an abridged account of the lives of the Prophet, the Sahaba, the Taabi'oon and the Taba Taabi'oon
- Ad-Du'afaa As-Saghir - Book containing a list of the names of weak narrators and reasons why this narrator is considered to be weak.
- Asaamee As-Sahaabah - Book containing the names, lineages and biographies of the Prophet's Companions.
- Kitab al-Waihdaan - Biographies of lesser known Companions that each related one hadeeth each.
- Kitab Al-Kuna - Book containing a list of kunya of hadeeth narrators so that one is able to differentiate between them.
- Khalq Af-aal Al-'Ibaad
- al-Tarikh Al-Awsat (no longer in existence but mentioned by 'Abdullah ibn Ahmad Al-Khaffaaf and Zinjawaiy Al-Libaad)
- al-Jaami' Al-Kabeer (no longer in existence but mentioned by ibn Taahir)
- Al-Musnad Al-Kabeer (no longer in existence but mentioned by Al-Firabree)
- Kitaab Al-Ashribah (no longer in existence but mentioned by Ad-Daaraqutnee)