Imam Al-Bukhari who was a Persian Islamic scholar was born in the city of Bukhara somewhere around 810 AD and passed on around 870 AD around Khartank a village of Samarqand. His real name was Muhammad Ibn Ismail ibn Ibrahim ibn al-Mughirah ibn Bardizbah al-Jufi Abu Abdallah al-Bukhari. He has with the title Amir al-Mu’min in the field of Hadith. This is a title he earned at an early stage in life because of his enormous knowledge in the field. He is recognized as one of the most renowned scholar in the field of hadith. This he was able to attain due to his love for the field since infancy. Notable among his contribution to the field of Hadith is the book titled and widely known as Sahih al-Bukhari in which authentic actions and sayings of the Prophet are recorded which forms part of the six major collections of hadith. His collection in fact remains one of the greatest sources of reference as far as the prophetic sayings are concerned. His Sahih al- Bukhari is the most authentic book after the Holy Quran.
As is a known thing to us, Hadith forms part of the two primary sources of the religion Islam. Hadith is used to mean the sayings of The Holy Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) which gives us a broader understanding of his actions and behaviors. Hadith is subordinate to the Quran in explaining and understanding Islam. The significance of the hadith as a source of understanding Islam is highly emphasized by the Quran. This makes it very prudent for such report to be authentic and highly authoritative before its acceptance. This Sunnah was highly preserved by the companions of the Prophet in their habits and behavior during his lifetime and after his departure. However with the passage of time, the need for recording the Hadith and collect them in the form of books due to the fear that the hadith might die with the death of these companions. Among the renowned scholars who contributed to this field was Imam Al Bukhari. The science of Hadith cannot to be discussed in the contemporary without the mention of Imam Al Bukhari. It is even a unanimous agreement that His work is the most authentic of all other works of hadith.
This research work is to study this Imam and his contribution to the field of hadith. The research will Centre on the Bio-data, Educational life, teachers, Students, scholarly works, qualities and death of this great scholar.
- NAME: His name is Muhammad ibn Ismail ibn Ibrahim ibn al Mugheerah al Jufi Abu Abdullah al-Buhaaare. The Bukhari attached to his name is a title he had attached due to his birth in the city of Bukhara.
- BIRTH: He was given birth to on a Friday in the city of Bukhara. This was on 13th of Shawwal 194 AH same as 21st July 810AD/CE.
- LINEAGE: His great-grandfather was Al-Mugheerah. He settled in the city of Bukhara. Mugheerah was a farmer and a non-Muslim. He later accepted Islam when Islam reached his land through the Muslim governor by the name Yaman al-Jufi. With this acceptance of Islam from al-Jufi, Mugheerah gained the title Jufi. Most scholars were with the view that, Al-Mugheerh’s father by name Bardizbah is the part of the earliest great ancestors of Imam al-Bukhari. His father was Abul Hassan Ismail ibn Ibrahim. His father was a Muslim and a scholar of Islam. He was a Muhadith (scholar of hadith). He had the privilege to study under the renowned scholars of Islam by name Imam Malik ibn Anas and Hammad ibn Zaid. The father was a merchant by profession. The father died when Imam al Bukhari was still an infant. Imam Al-Bukhari wrote a complete biography of his father in one of his write-ups (At Tareekh al Kabeer). 1. Little regarding the name of the mother is known and mentioned by historians. What was mentioned about her was her piety. A clear manifestation of her piety was what was reported by Lalkai in Sharhu Sunnah that “Imam Bukhari lost his sight in his childhood. His mother saw Prophet Ibrahim alaihis salaam in her dream who told her that Allah Almighty has given your child’s sight back because of your prayers. In the morning, she found he has recovered his sight”.2. The hardworking mother raised Imam al-Bukhari and his elder brother as orphans
HIS EARLY LIFE AND PURSUIT FOR KNOWLEDGE:
He grew up in the city of Bukhara as an orphan. He started pursuing for knowledge at an early stage in his life. Although he memorized the Quran, his much attention was on the study of Hadith. He commenced the study of hadith before he was age 9. Around age 11, he was an extraordinary student this was seen when he was able to detect an error committed by his teacher Ad Dakhilee. When the teacher verified his student was right he realized that imam al-Bukhari will be a great scholar in the near future. His strong memory was something surprising to both his teachers and fellow students. The strength of his memory made him able to complete his studies of hadith before age 16. He was able to memorize several books of famous scholars like Abdullah ibn Al- Mubarak (Alwaki). At this same age, he started to learn the biographies of the narrators of hadith of which he became a master in such field too. His intellectual capabilities made him to start teaching at age 16. He did not limit his pursuit for knowledge only in Bukhara. When he was of age 18, he travelled to Makkah with his mother and brother for the act of hajj. He stayed behind after the act of hajj to further his studies with the permission of his mother. He alone stayed behind to study hadith and other Islamic sciences from the scholars in Makkah of which he stayed for two years. He later left Makkah to Madinah to enhance his studies in the field of Hadith, Fiqh and Islamic Jurisprudence for four years. He did not end there. He also went to Basra, Kufa, Baghdad, Sham (Syria) and Egypt just for knowledge. Bukhari has been associated with the Hanbal jurisprudence as his School of thought where as others also claim he follows the Shafi School of thought under the sunni denomination
In the journey of his pursuit for knowledge, he met several teachers of which he himself mentioned that of all the 1,080 teachers who he wrote hadiths from and they were all experts and reputable teachers who can be hugely trusted. It will be something difficult to mention all of them. However, among his reputable teachers were Ishaq Ibn Rahwayh, Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal, Yahya ibn Maeen, Muhammad ibn Yusuf Al-Firyabi Muhammad bin Yusuf Al-Baykandi, Ali ibn al Madeeni and many others.
Several students studied and narrated hadith from him. The exact number is a difficult thing to trace. However, over 90,000 people have heard hadiths directly from him. Among his notable students were Muslim ibn Hajjaj (Imam Muslim), Abu Isa Muhammad Al-Tirmidhi, Abu Hatim Ar-Razi, Abu Abdu-ur Rahman Ahmad ibn Shuaib Al- Nasai, Muhammad bin Nashir Al-Marwazi, Abu Bakar bin Ishaq bin Khuzaimah and many others.
HIS SCHOLARY WORKS
He is not just a scholar of hadith for that reason his scholarly works did not only center on hadith. His works ranges from hadith and other Islamic sciences such as Tareekh (History), Fiqh and Tafseer. Some of his works were Al-Adab Al-Mufrad, al Tareekh Al-Kabeer, Altareekh Al-saghir, Al -Tareekh Al-awsat and many others. His scholarly works cannot be discussed without the mention of his renowned hadith collection of hadith entitled “Al-Jami As-Sahih widely known as Sahih Al-Bukhari. The story underlying the compilation of the book makes it unique. The imam saw the Holy Prophet Muhammad in his dream one night with a fan driving away flies from him. Upon finding out the meaning of the dream, it was mentioned to him that he will do away with all lies attributed to the sayings of the Prophet. This motivated the Imam to compile a comprehensive book on hadith to protect the sayings of the Prophet. He was very careful in this compilation this made him to make sure all those he narrated from were trustworthy and the compilation was made carried out in the two holy cities (Makkah and Madinah). He compiled almost 8,000 hadiths in this book and all the hadith were authentic without any doubts.
HIS BANISHMENT FROM BUKHARA
After leaving Bukhara to seek for Knowledge, he later returned to the city to benefit his people by teaching them. The people welcomed him with much joy. He established a school to help him carry such responsibility of teaching his people. He was later banished from the city by the governor Khalid bin Ahmed when Imam refused teaching his son at home and special treatment in school by teaching him alone.
His banishment from his birth city Bukhara affected the imam deeply. The people of Samarqand heard of Imam’s issue so they extended an invitation to the imam to come over to their place. On his way, he fell sick at Khartank a village of Samarqand. He spent his last days in that village. He later passed on a Friday on the 1st of Shawwal 256AH same as September 870CE. His body was buried in the same village. The Imam spent 62years on earth. We pray Allah have mercy and forgive this pious Imam.
HIS CHARACTER AND QUALITIES
The great scholar had lots of good characters and qualities worthy of emulating. Of these characters and qualities displayed by the scholar throughout his life were; fear of Allah, simple and humble, generous and was blessed with an amazing and retentive memory among many others.
Imam al-Bukhari had lots of recommendations from lots of scholars ranging from his teachers, students and those that even lived with him commending his works in the field of Hadith, praising his good characters and was generally seen as a mercy from Allah to mankind regarding his piety and knowledgeable person. Such scholars included Al-Hafiz Ibn Rajah Al-Hanbali, AL hafiz ibn Rajab Alasqalaani, Abu Bakr Mohammad Ibn Ishaq Ibn Khuzaimah and many others. In fact the contributions of this scholar in the field of hadith and Islam at large cannot be underestimated. May Allah continue to bless him. To Allah we belong and to him we shall return.
- Lucas, Scott C. (2006). “The legal principles of Muhammad B. Ismail Al-Bukhari and their Relationship to Classical Salafi Islam”. Islamic Law and Society. 13 (3):292
- Salaahud-Deen ibn Alee ibn Abdul Maujood (December 2005). The biography of Imam Bukhaaree Translated by Faisal Shafeeq (1st ed.) Riyadh:Darussalam.
- Short biography of Imam Bukhari. Islamicfinder.org
- Muhammad al-Bukhari-Wikipedia. https://en.m.wikipedia.org
- Bilal Philips, Usoolul Hadeeth
- Lecture notes on hadeeth 501, Islamic online university, Master of Arts in Islamic Studies