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Imam Bukhari

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Imam Bukhari
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Who is not aware of Hadhrat Imam Bukhari (R.A) and his kitaab ‘Saheehul- Bukhari’?

However in this present day, the majority of Muslims use his kitaab to refer to whenever in need of a supporting reference for their actions or deeds without the knowledge of the life of the great author.

Kitaabe-Bukhari has been given the status of being the most authenticated book after the Holy Qur’an. But why?

Although all aspects of Imam Bukhari’s life and great works cannot be covered in any book; this concise booklet aims to cover in general the life of Imam Bukhari (R.A) and as to how he compiled his kitaab so one may discover as to why it has been said that:

The dua that is made after completing Bukhari is accepted.

May the Almighty Allah shower His blessings upon such a great personality who has been the source of guidance for many through compiling such a kitaab. And may He also accept our humble effort. Ameen.

The famous and respected Muhaddith, Imam Bukhari’s (R.A) genealogy is as follows: Mohammed Ibn Ismail Ibn Ibrahim Ibn Mugheera Ibn Bardizbah.

His father Ismail was a well-known and famous Muhaddith in his time and had been blessed with the chance of being in the company of Imam Malik, Hammad Ibn Zaid and also Abdullah Ibn Mubarak (R.A.).

Imam Bukhari (R.A) was born on the blessed day of Friday 13 Shawwaal 194 (A.H). He had lost the use of his eyes in the early stages of his childhood. However, due to the pious and lengthy prayers of his mother his eyesight was returned miraculously. The news had reached his mother through a dream in which Hadhrat Ibrahim (A.S) had appeared and said, "Due to your bountiful and sacred prayers Allah Ta’alaa has returned the eyesight of your son."

The dream was proven to be true in the morning.

Ismail the father of Imam Bukhari (R.A) had died in Imam Bukhari’s childhood, leaving him in the care of his mother where he was nourished with love and care. At the age of sixteen after having memorized the compiled books of Imam Waki and Abdullah Ibn Mubarak, he performed Haj with his elder brother and mother. After the completion of Haj Imam Bukhari remained in Makkah for a further two years and upon reaching the age of eighteen headed for Medinah, and spent his nights next to the grave of the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam compiling the books of ‘Qadhaayas-Sahaabah Wat-Taabi’een’ and ‘Taareekhul-Kabeer’ with the moonlight as a means of lighting.

Imam Bukhari (R.A) traveled a great deal in order to expand his knowledge. He made two trips to Syria and Egypt and stayed six years in Arabia. He also happened to return to Kufa, Baghdad and Basra four times and at times remained there for a period of five years. Also at Haj season he used to return to Makkah.

Imam Bukhari ( R.A) first started listening and learning ahaadeeth in 205 A.H., and after profiting from the Ulamaa of his town he started his travels in 210 A.H. There are a great number of teachers from whom Imam Bukhari (R.A) actually gained his much respected knowledge. It has been known to be said by Imam Bukhari (R..A) himself that, "I have written ahaadeeth from 1080 different people all of whom were scholars." However, he profited most from Ishaq Ibn Rahway and Ali Ibn Madeeni (R.A). Imam Bukhari (R.A) has narrated ahaadeeth from Ulamaa of five different categories. He has also narrated ahaadeeth from his students believing in the fact that no person shall be titled a scholar of ahaadeeth until he has narrated from his elders, youngsters and contemporaries.

Imam Bukhari (R.A) also had a vast amount of students. It has been stated that approximately 9 000 people were privileged to sit in his lessons where he taught his Kitab ‘Sahih-Ul-Bukhari’. There were travelers amongst these from all corners of the world in order to join these pious sittings and to be honoured with a glimpse of the knowledge that he held and which never failed to astonish anybody.

Imam Bukhari’s (R.A) memory was considered to be inhuman, for as soon as the praying of a hadith would finish Imam Bukhari (R.A) would repeat it orally. It has been known that in his childhood he had memorized 2 000 ahaadeeth.

There is one spectacular incident which took place in Baghdad when Imam Bukhari (R.A) took up temporary residence there. The people having heard of his many accomplishments, and the attributes which were issued to him, decided to test him so as to make him prove himself to them. In order to do that they chose one hundred different ahaadeeth and changing the testimonials and the text of the ahaadeeth they were then recited by ten people to Imam Bukhari (R.A).

There was a crowd of gathered people from within and outside the city to witness the outcome of such a test. When the ahaadeeth were recited Imam Bukhari (R.A) replied to all in one manner, "Not to my knowledge." However, after the completion of all the ahaadeeth Imam Bukhari (R.A) repeated each text and testimonial which had been changed followed by the correct text and testimonial, such was the memory of Imam Bukhari (R.A).

His abstinence was also an attribute which was incomparable and undauntless. He had been left a considerable amount of wealth by his father however, due to his generosity he spent it all in the path of Allah so that at the end he had been left with no money forcing him to spend his day on one or two almonds.

He never took advantage from the generosity of any king or ruler, although many occasions arose. Once he fell ill and when his urine was tested, the results showed that he had not consumed curry for a long time. Upon questioning he said, "I have not consumed curry for the last forty years.

Special Attributes
Imam Bukhari (RA) had one very special attribute which was to put everyone’s happiness before his own. One incident which proves this is when Imam Bukahri’s (RA) slave-girl was entering the room in which Imam Bukhari was seated however, approaching the door she stumbled; causing Imam Bukhari to warn, "Be careful as to where you are walking.’’ The slave-girl replied haughtily "How shall I walk when there is no place?’’ Upon hearing this Imam Bukhari threw up his hands and cheered," I have now given you the freedom to walk where you wish as of now you are freed." Someone later questioned Imam Bukhari if he had reacted out of anger, however, he replied "No, I have just pleased myself with my conduct.’’

Imam Bukhari always took notice of all things little which could help him earn the happiness of Allah Ta’ala. There is one such incident where there was a gathering. A man from within the crowd found a feather within his beard which he threw on the floor. Imam Bukhari followed the mans action and looking around to make sure no-one was looking and then bent in order to pick it up and placed it in his pocket. After leaving the mosque he threw it away aware of the fact that he had just done something in order to help keep the mosque clean.

Imam Bukhari (R.A) states himself that, "From the time of learning the prohibitions of backbiting till now, I have refrained from such an act."

There is also one incident when Imam Bukhari (R.A) was involved in Zohar prayers. After completing his salaah he started to pray his Nafl. On finishing this he turned towards his companions and lifting the bottom of his shirt said, “Is there anything inside this?" Suddenly a wasp fell out leaving 17 places which were swelling due to the violent stings of the wasp. One companion asked why the salaah was not discontinued. He replied, "I felt a certain pleasure from my salaah which I was reluctant to let go of."

The Governor of Bukhara made a special request for Imam Bukhari (R.A) to make daily visits to his home in order to teach his children. Imam Bukhari (R.A) declined stating that, "I give greater respect to knowledge rather than to people, for it is they who are in need of the knowledge and it is they who should seek it."

Upon hearing this the Governor was further annoyed by Imam Bukhari’s (R.A) answer and made a second request that Imam Bukhari (R.A) make a special arrangement to teach his children alone without anyone else being present which was also refused by Imam Bukhari (R.A). The Governor was infuriated by the second refusal and ordered Imam Bukhari (R.A) out of Bukhara. The people of Samarqand hearing of this quickly issued an invitation to Imam Bukhari (R.A) to come to their town. However, there was also a difference of opinion within the people of Samarqand which forced Imam Bukhari (R.A) to turn towards Khartang.

It was here that he spent the month of Ramadaan and in the month of Shawwaal headed towards Samarqand, where death found him whilst he was traveling. Imam Bukhari died in the month of Shawwaal 256 A.H., at the age of 62.

(To Allah we belong and to Him we shall return.)

There are a number of books compiled by Imam Bukhari (R.A) however, Bukhari Shareef has gained great esteem and a high status in the learning and praying of ahaadeeth.

A specific date has not been known as to when he had started the writing of Bukhari Shareef, however, we do know that after he had finished he had shown the manuscript to his teachers Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (R.A) for approval who died in 241 A.H, along with Ibnul-Madeeni who died in 234 A.H, and lastly Ibn Maeen who passed away in 233 A.H. It has also been recorded that it took the noble writer a period of 16 years to gather the ahaadeeth and to write Bukhari Shareef which sets the date back to 217 A.H, as the year in which he started the compilation; Imam Bukhari (R.A) being merely 23 years of age.

Before Imam Bukhari (R.A) had started to collect ahaadeeth there had actually been quite a few published books of ahaadeeth in which Imam Bukhari (R.A) found ahaadeeth of both weak and strong testimonials, which gave him the idea to compile such a kitaab containing ahaadeeth of only strong testimonials. Ishaaq Ibn Rahway (R.A) agreed to this idea which strengthened Imam Bukhari’s (R.A) decision.

Imam Bukhari (R.A) states, "There was once a time during one of our sessions when my teacher Ishaaq Ibn Rahway remarked it would be appreciated if someone could collect ahaadeeth which held strong and reliable testimonials and write them in the form of a kitaab." This inspired Imam Bukhari (R.A) which was later strengthened by a dream in which Imam Bukhari (R.A) was positioned in front of the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam with a fan in one hand to aid him in ridding the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam of all flies which would rest upon him. Upon waking, Imam Bukhari (R.A) visited several interpreters for an appropriate interpretation. They all answered that it meant he would in future cleanse the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam of all lies spoken by the people through narrating misunderstood ahaadeeth. This gave Imam Bukhari (R.A) great comfort and strength once he started the writing of his kitab Al-Jame-ul-Sahih. The complete name of the kitaab is ‘Al-Jame-ul-Sahih-al-Musnad-min-ahaadeethe-Rasulillah Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam-wa-sunanihi-wa-Ayyaamihi,’ which means a collected version of ahaadeeth in the form of a kitaab which relates to us the sayings, actions and the life of the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam.

Imam Bukhari (R.A) had taken great care in writing the ahaadeeth and choosing those which met the standards and conditions which he set to find ahaadeeth with only strong testimonials which included only reliable and trustworthy testifiers. He spent 16 years in writing the kitaab, altering it a total of three times. Allaamah Ayni (R.A.) reports of Ibn Tahir’s remark that Imam Bukhari had written Sahih-ul-Bukhari in his hometown Bukhara. Ibn Bujair however, relates that he had started his compiling in Makkah, and some have reported of seeing him in Basra. There is still another differing remark made by others who comment on seeing him in Madinah to write his kitaab. However, we find Imam Bukhari (R.A) relating himself that he wrote Sahih-ul-Bukhari in Masjid-e-Haraam.

Before he actually placed a hadith in his compilation he used to perform ghusl and prayed to Allah through two rakah nafl prayers asking for guidance. Imam Bukhari ( R.A) worked such that only after being completely satisfied with the hadith in question did he give it a place in his kitaab. Due to this great care which was taken, the people were heard to say that the ahaadeeth which Imam Bukhari (R.A) has narrated have been so carefully phrased and with such precision that it is felt Imam Bukhari (R.A) had heard the ahaadeeth directly through the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam.

Abu Zaid Marwazi reports that I was once asleep in between the ‘Black stone’ and ‘Maqaam-e-Ibrahim’ when the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam appeared in my dream he stated, "O Abu Zaid! For how long shall you teach Imam Shafi’s (R.A) kitaab ? When shall you start the teaching of my kitaab ?"

I questioned, "O Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam! Which kitaab is yours?" He replied, "Mohammed Ibn Ismail’s Al-Jame-ul-Sahih."

Hafiz Ibn Hajar (R.A) reports that Imam Bukhari (R.A) has kept it of utmost importance to only narrate ahaadeeth of a strong testimonial which can be proven by the name of the kitaab. However, along with this Imam Bukhari (R.A) also made an effort to explain all points which are difficult to understand, which is the reason why he has given a plentiful host of meanings for one sentence which may include a word that is in reality difficult to understand. Imam Bukhari (R.A) has included within his kitaab the art of narrating ahaadeeth which have been divided into eight different chapters. These chapters contain subjects which have been sub-titled and are famous for the ingenious way in which they have been phrased.

Imam Bukhari (R.A) has imposed conditions which all narrators and testifiers must meet before the hadith can be selected. One condition requires that all testifiers must have a strong memory. There are also restrictions made upon this condition :

1. All the Muhadditheen who possess great knowledge of ahaadeeth must agree upon the testifiers’ in question ability to learn and memorize, along with his reporting techniques.

2. The testimonial must be complete without any missing testifiers.

3. If there are two different narrators of a hadith related to them by a Sahaabi then the hadith shall be given a high stage in rank. However, if only one narrator can be found and the testimonial proves to be a strong one then this shall be accepted without any doubts.

Allaamah Nawawi (R.A) relates that all scholars in Islam have agreed that Sahih-ul-Bukhari has earnestly gained the reward of being the most authentic after the Holy Qur’an.

Sahih-ul-Bukhari consists of 7 275 ahaadeeth including those ahaadeeth which have been repeated. However, should the repeated ahaadeeth be excluded then the total number of ahaadeeth will be 4,000.

Hafiz Ibn Hajar counted the ahaadeeth and concluded that there was 7 397 where the ahaadeeth have been passed down from the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam directly and with the narrations of Sahabah or Tabi’een etc.; procuring a total of 9 407 ahaadeeth in all. Although after excluding the repetitions he found 2 353 narrations of the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam and 160 sayings of the respected Sahabah totaling to 2 513 narrations in all.

A Distinctive Honour
Bukhari Shareef has been set apart from other compilations, gaining a distinctive honour due to the following reasons :

1. Whilst Imam Bukhari (R.A) was engaged in the writing of Bukhari Shareef, if the need arose to stop work for a period of time, then he would continue his work only after writing ‘Bismillah’ which is the reason why ‘ Bismillah’ has been found to be written in between in many places.

2. At the end of all chapters Imam Bukhari (R.A) has concluded by use of a word within the sentence so as to give one a point to ponder upon and hopefully so that one becomes more aware of the primary objective of life. e.g. after the first chapter he has included a word which brings one to think of their short life in this world and of their death. His intention is that one reads Kitaabe-Bukhari with death in mind.

3. Imam Bukhari (R.A) has paid great attention towards the beginning and ending his kitaab with an appropriate hadith. For the first hadith narrated within the kitaab is based upon intention which gives one the opportunity to be sincere with himself as to what he intends to gain from studying the words of the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam which have been narrated throughout the kitaab. Also the last chapter which Imam Bukhari (R.A) has chosen to end his kitaab with is ‘Kitaab-ul-Tauheed’ which gives one a whole host of words which may be said in order to praise the oneness of Allah; for it is this which is believed to be the sole aid for all humans when they shall find themselves in the unbearable position of being reckoned for their sins on the Day of Judgment.

Hadhrat Shaikh Moulana Muhammad Zakariyya (R.A) has summed up the above in these words," Imam Bukhari (R.A) has commenced his kitaab with the hadeeth "Innamal Aamaal...." and concluded it with "Kalimataan".


Imam Bukhari
By: Shaykh al-Hadīth `Allāma Ghulām Rasūl Sa`īdī
Translated by: `Allāmah Ishfaq Alam Qadri and M. Iqtidar

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After the Sahābah al-kirām, Imām al-Bukhārī ranks as the most eminent of those pious people who have conferred endless bliss upon the Ummah of the Holy Prophet sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam. The greatest evidence of this is the book of Ahādīth an-Nabawī he compiled, commonly known as Sahīh al-Bukhārī. It is universally acknowledged as the most authentic book after the Holy Qur'ān. So long as their is one Muslim left on the Earth, the blessings of Imām Bukhārī will have a place in his or her Īmān and Islām. Let us briefly examine below a short survey of his life and works.

His Early Years
Imām al-muhaddithīn Hadrat Imām Abū `Abdullāh Muhammad ibn Ismā`īl al-Bukhārī was born on the 13th of the Islāmic month of Shawwāl, 194AH, in the famous city of Bukhara, of the land "beyond the canal" - present day Uzbekistan -. The father of Imām Bukhārī, Ismā`īl ibn Ibrāhīm ibn Mughīrah al-Ja`fī, was a great muhaddith and ascetic from whom he inherited his characteristics of literary zeal and excellence. During infancy his father passed away and his mother took on the entire responsibility of bringing him up. Imām Bukhārī became blind at a young age. He had recourse to many famous and skilled doctors of his time but their treatments made no difference. His mother was a pious worshipper and a righteous woman. She cried out for help in the court of Allāh the Almighty, for her child and begged for the restoration of his eyesight. At last, "the river of mercy flowed over her," and Almighty Allāh accepted her invocation. One night, she visited Ibrāhīm `alayhis-salām in a dream and was told, "Allāh has restored the sight of your son because of your intense and beautiful invocations." In the morning, as Imām Bukhārī got up from his bed, glimmers of light reached out into his eyes.

Primary Education and Interest in Hadīth
When Imām Bukhārī reached the age of ten and after acquiring his elementary education, Almighty Allāh inserted the interest in the science of Ahadīth into his heart and he obtained admission in the Hadīth class of Bukhara. He obtained his educations after vigorous study. A year later, he had such a good retention of the text and chains of transmission of Ahādīth, that sometimes teachers got their corrections from him. Imām Bukhārī had been acquiring religious education with competance and swiftness and at the tender age of sixteen, he had completely learnt by heart the books of `Abdullāh ibn al-Mubārak, al-Wakī` and other learned companions of al-Imām Abū Hanīfa radiyallāhu `anhum.

The Visit to the Haramayn and the Commencement of His Ahādīth Compilation
At the age of eighteen, He visited Makkah accompanied by his mother and elder brother, Ahmad ibn Ismā`īl. After performing the pilgrimage, his brother returned with the company of his mother, but Imām Bukhārī stayed there for further education. Meanwhile, he wrote a book called, Qadāyā as-Sahābah wat-Tābi`īn. After this he went to Madīnah al-munawwarah to compile the famous book of Asmā` ar-rijāl (Names of men of transmission) called, Tārīkh al-kabīr, while sitting by the tomb of the Holy Prophet sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam during moonlight hours. Immediately after completing this, a series of imitations had begun. Muhammad ibn Yūsaf al-Furyābī said that at the time he had copied Tārīkh al-kabīr, Imām Bukhārī did not yet have any facial hair.

Imām Bukhārī travelled to cities far and wide for the transmission of Ahādīth and had gained immense knowledge while sitting far from his own country for several years. He stated himself, "To seek knowledge, I travelled to Egypt and Syria twice, Basra four times, spent six years at the Hijāz and left for Kufa and Baghdad on so many occasions accompanied by Muhaddithīn."

His Remarkable Memory
Imām Bukhārī was a man with a very strong memory. When we look at his memory, it is as if his body from head to toe stored it. Seeing his memory, the memory of Abū Hurayrah radiyallāhu `anhu is rekindled in the hearts of Muslims. Hashid ibn Ismā`īl states that in his childhood: "Imām Bukhārī used to go with us to the Scholars of Basra to listen to Ahādīth. All of us used to write Ahādīth down, except Imām Bukhārī. After sixteen days, we thought about it and we condemned Imām Bukhārī saying that, 'you had wasted so many days work by not writing down Ahādīth.' Imām Bukhārī asked us to bring our notes to him. So we all brought our notes, upon which Imām Bukhārī began to read Ahādīth one by one from the top of his head until he narrated to us more than fifteen thousand! Hearing these, it seemed that Imām Bukhārī was reteaching us all of the Ahādīth we had noted."

Muhammad ibn Azhar Sajistānī says: "I used to go to Sulaymān ibn Harab accompanied by Imām Bukhārī for listening to Ahādīth. I used to write the Ahādīth, but Imām Bukhārī wouldn't. Somone said to me, 'Why doesn't Imām Bukhārī note the Ahādīth down?' I told him, 'if you missed any Hādīth in writing, you could obtain it from the memory of Imām Bukhārī.'"

Imām Bukhārī's memory could be understood by knowing that if he glanced through a book, it would be committed to memory instantly. In his early period of acquiring knowledge, he memorised seventy thousand Ahādīth and later in his life, this figure reached three hundred thousand. Of these, one hundred thousand were sahīh (rigorously authenticated) and two hundred thousand were not sahīh (hasan, da`īf, etc). Once he went to Balkh and the inhabitants desired that he should recite one Hadīth from each of his shaykhs. Then he orated from one thousand Shaykhs one thousand Ahādīth.

Sulaymān ibn Mujāhid says: "One day I was present in the company of Muhammad ibn Salām Baykandī. Muhammad ibn Salām said, 'If you had come earlier, I would have shown you the child who has seventy thousand Ahādīth in his memory.' Sulaymān stood up from his company and started looking for Imām Bukhārī. Shortly he found him and asked, 'Are you the one who has committed seventy thousand Ahādīth to memory?' Imām Bukhārī replied, 'I have learnt more Ahādīth than this by heart. I even know the place of birth, death and residence of most of those companions from whom the Ahādīth are narrated."

His Extraordinary Intellect
Along with his extraordinary memory, he also had a very sharp intellect. He did not depend on pen and paper as much as he relied on his mind and memory. People examined the capabilities of Imām Bukhāri in the science of Hadīth repeatedly but he always remained successful as a result of Allāh's gift of intellegence and superb memory.

Hāfiz Ahmad ibn `Adī describes: "When the people of Baghdad had learnt that Imām Bukhārī was due to arrive there, the Muhaddithīn of Baghdad decided to test him by changing the text and chains of transmission of one hundred Ahādīth. They joined the chain of one Hadīth with the text of another and attached the chain of this Hadīth with the text of the prior. Like this, they mixed up the text and chains of transmission of one hundred Ahādīth and gave these to people who would test Imām Bukhārī with these.

"When Imām Bukhāri arrived at Baghdad, the people held a gathering in his honour, in which most of the Ulamā, nobles and public were present. One person stood up according to the plan and asked a question regarding a Hadīth with its altered chain of transmission. Upon this, a second person stood up and recited in similar manner. Like this, the people completed the hundred Ahādīth and awaited Imām Bukhārī's reply. He said that he had not apprehended those Ahādīth. When he saw that everyone had finished asking questions, he stood up and described the chain of transmission of the first Hadīth read and then gave its correct chain. Like this, he detailed the faulty chains on the Ahādīth of all one hundred set up by the scholars. He had given the correct chains of transmission to every Hadīth. When he finished, the entire audience was full of praise and recognition of the superiority and greatness of Imām Bukhārī."

Hāfiz Abul-Azhar relates: "Once four hundred Muhaddithīn had gathered in the city of Samarqand to test Imām Bukhārī. They did this by mixing up the transmissions of Syria with the transmissions of Iraq and the transmissions of Iraq with the transmissions of Syria. Similarly, they inserted the transmissions of the Haram (Makkah) into the ones of Yemen and vice versa. They did this to Imām Bukhāri for seven days, but could not mislead him in text or transmission a single time. He had comprehensive knowledge in the science of Hadīth - all of the routes of a Hadīth were in his eyes if one with many chains was found. So Imām Bukhārī had a good view of all of them. In that age, no one had more command over the different ways of transmission than Imām Bukhārī."

Yūsuf ibn Mūsā Marūzī states: "I was sitting in the central mosque of Basra when I heard a voice saying, 'O seeker of knowledge, Imām Muhammad ibn Ismā`īl has arrived. Whoever wants to receive Ahādīth from him should present himself in his company.'" Marūzī says: "I saw a thin, weak young man near the pillar who was praying salāt with extreme humbleness and humility and that was Imām Bukhārī. As soon as the announcement was made, curious people from all directions began to gather around."

Glimpses of his private life
1. Self sufficiency:
The father of Imām Bukhārī, Muhaddith Ismā`īl ibn Ibrāhīm was enormously rich and Imām Bukhārī had inherited a huge share of his wealth. He used to give his wealth on the basis of silent partnership (e.g. if a person is in possession of a shop, the profits are shared equally, but only one partner does all the work). Abū Sa`īd Bakr ibn Munīr states: "Once Abū Hafs sent some goods to Imām Bukhārī and when traders learnt of this, they came and offered five thousand dirhams. He told them, 'Come in the evening.' A second group of traders came and offered ten thousand dirhams, but he told them, 'I have already made an agreement with someone else. Ido not want to change my intention for the sake of ten thousand dirhams.'"

2. Simplicity and humbleness:
From the point of view of his character, Imām Bukhārī was a simple and hard working person. He would fulfill his own needs by himself. Despite having a lot of wealth and status, he always kept the minimum number of servants required and never indulged himself in this matter. Muhammad ibn Hātim Warrāq, who was one of his main disciples, says: "Imām Bukhārī was establishing an inn near the city of Bukhara and was placing the bricks with his own hands. I came forward and said 'Leave the laying of the bricks for this building to me.' But he replied, 'On the day of judgement, this act will be of benefit to me.'"

Warrāq goes on to say: "When we accompanied Imām Bukhārī on a journey, he would gather us in one room and would stay by himself in a separate room. Once I saw Imām Bukhārī get up between fifteen and twenty times during the night and every time, he lit the lamp with his own hands. He took some Ahādīth out, marked them and then placed his head on his pillow and laid on his couch. I said to him, 'Why did you go through all this trouble during the night, when you could have woken me up [so that I could help you].' He replied, 'You are young and are in need of sound sleep and I did not want to disturb your sleep.'"

3. Generosity
Just as he was generous with this wealth, he was also greatly generous with his heart. Sometimes, he would give three thousand dirhams as a donation in one day. Warrāq says that Imām Bukhārī's earnings were five hundred dirhams per month and he would spend all of it on his students.

4. Abstention (Zuhd)
Imām Bukhārī kept himself away from all worldly desires and temptations. Sometimes, in his quest for knowledge, he passed his time eating dried grass (hay). Usually he would eat only two or three almonds in a whole day. Once he became ill and the doctors told him, "Your intestines have become dry because you have been eating dried leaves." It was at that moment that Imām Bukhārī told the doctor that he had been eating dried leaves for forty years and during this span of time he never even touched any kind of curry.

5. Fear of Allāh
He was bestowed with the highest rank of piety and righteousness. He feared Allāh very much inwardly and outwardly. He prevented himself from backbiting and suspicion and always respected the rights of others. Bakr ibn Munīr relates that Imām Bukhārī said, "I am hopeful that when I meet my Lord, He will not take account of me because I never backbited."

Imām Bukhārī was so vigilant in his worship, that he would pray Nawāfil and keep fasts in abundance. He would complete the recitation of the whole Qur'ān daily in the month of Ramadān and also recited ten chapters of the Holy Qur'ān deep in the night. He would complete the Holy Qur'ān in the Tarāwīh prayers and always reciting twenty verses in each rak`at. He was very courteous, tolerant and gentle. He never became angry if mistreated by other persons and prayed forgiveness for those who attributed evil to him. If he needed to correct any person, he would never embarrass him in public.

His Arrival in Nīshāpūr and the issue of the creation of the Qur'ān
In 250 AH, Imām Bukhārī decided to go to Nīshāpūr. After hearing this news, a wave of happiness spread among its people. In those times, Muhammad ibn Yahya adh-Dhuhlī was the head of the literary kingdom of Nīshāpūr. He advised and led the inhabitants of the city to gather together for the welcoming of Imām Bukhārī. A huge crowd went to the outskirts of the city to receive Imām Bukhārī, with extreme magnificence and honour. Imām Muslim ibn Hajjāj says that in all his life, he had never seen such a reception ever given to a scholar or even a ruler.

Imām Bukhārī began to deliver lectures on Hadīth in Nīshāpūr. At every session, a huge crowd always packed the area to listen and many included people who had arrived specifically to learn the science of Hadīth. However, some unpleasant people were envious about the reputation and popularity of Imām Bukhārī. These people set up Muhammad ibn Yahya adh-Dhuhlī to become his opponent. In this incident, Muhammad ibn Yahya considered the pronunciation of the Qur'ān as eternal and was firmly rooted with this concept.

Once, a man approached Imām Bukhārī and asked him whether the Qur'ān was created (makhlūq) or not created (ghayr makhlūq). Imām Bukhārī paused for a while. The man insisted on a reply, upon which he was told, "The Qur'ān are the words of Allāh and they are not created (ghayr makhlūq)." The man posed some more questions about the words of the Qur'ān, upon which Imām Bukhārī said, "Our actions are created and the pronunciation is one our actions."

[Comment by G.F. Haddad: The above is inaccurately translated. It should read: "Muhammad ibn
Yahya considered the *pronunciation* of the Qur'ān as eternal..." and "Imām Bukhārī said, 'Our actions are created and the pronunciation is one our actions.'"

The disagreement was only over the pronunciation (lafz) of the Qur'an, not the words of the Qur'an, although lafz also means "wording." Al-Dhuhli and other people close to the Hanbali madhhab considered that the pronunciation is uncreated just like the Qur'an itself. Others, like Bukhari and Muslim, also al-Karabisi the companion of al-Shafi`i and others considered the pronunciation created since it is part of one's acts and acts are certainly created. There was no disagreement that the words of the Qur'an are not created since they are what is meant when we say that the Qur'an is Allah's Speech.

What possibly reconciles the different views on this subject is that lafz is used by some to mean the revealed, uncreated words and contents of recitation, while others mean thereby the mere act of pronunciation, which is created; hence the extreme caution shown by some, such as Imam al-Bukhari, who fell short of saying: "Lafz is created" even though he used it in the second sense, since he said: "Lafz is an act of human beings, and our acts are created." This lexical ambiguity is a proof of sorts that the differences on this particular question were largely in terminology rather than essence. Added to this is a fundamental difference in method around the appropriateness of such dialectic (kalam), which poisoned the air with unnecessary condemnations on the part of Imam Ahmad's followers - and Allah knows best.]

After this, mass propaganda started against Imām Bukhārī, which led to accusations that he believed the words of the Qur'ān to be created. When Dhuhlī heard these rumours, he disconnected his ties with Imām Bukhārī and became his foe. He started warning people by announcing that they should not attend the lectures of Imām Bukhārī. As a result, people refrained from sitting in his lectures, except Muslim ibn Hajjāj. At last, due to his disappointment, Imām Bukhārī left the city of Nīshāpūr and returned to Bukhara.1

Banishment from his homeland
When the people of Bukhara learnt that Imām Bukhārī was coming back to his homeland, they became extremely overjoyed and erected tents many miles outside the city to welcome him. They greeted him with splendour for his return. He established a school there where he spent a great deal of time teaching with satisfaction.

Even here, there were envious people who did not leave him alone. They met the governor of Bukhara, who was a representative of the Khilāfat `Abasiyya, Khālid ibn Ahmad. They told him to call Imām Bukhārī to his house and busy him with teaching his son. When the governor put this suggestion to Imām Bukhārī, he was told, "I do not want to abuse knowledge and carry it to the footstep of the rulers. If anybody wants to learn, they should come to my school." The governor replied, by stating, "If my son was to attend your school, he should not sit with ordinary people. You would have to teach him separately." Imām Bukhārī answered, "I cannot stop any person from hearing Ahādīth." Upon hearing this, the governer of Bukhara became angry with him and got a fatwa (verdict) from the time wasting opportunist (ibn al-waqt) `Ulamā against Imām Bukhārī to banish him from the city.

Imām Bukhārī was distressed at the thought of being banished from his homeland. Not even a month passed, before the Khalīf of Baghdad dismissed the governor of Bukhara, Khālid ibn Ahmad adh-Dhuhlī. The governor was expelled from his palace in extreme disgrace and dishonour, being mounted on a she-ass and then thrown into prison, where he died in a space of a few days. Similarly, all the supporters of the governor also died in disgraceful ways.

His passing
After returning from Bukhara, Imām Bukhārī decided to travel to Samarqand. He was still many miles from the city, when he heard that the people there had two veiws about him. So he decided to stay at a village along the way called "Kharteng". Here, he made the following invocation one night after the late-night prayer: "O Allāh, the Earth despite its grandeur is becoming narrow and is troubling me greatly. So take me back to You." After this invocation, he became ill. Meanwhile, the people of Samarqand sent a messenger to bring him there. Bukhārī got up and was ready to travel, but his strength gave way. He began to invoke Allāh at length, then he took to his bed and his soul passed away to his Lord - may Allāh have mercy on him. An indescribable amount of perspiration came out of him even after he consigned his life to the Creator of life. When this abated, he was shrouded. He died on the night of `Īd al-Fitr, the first night of Shawwāl in the year 256 AH. He had reached the age of 62 years, less twelve days. On this night, the sun of great knowledge, virtue and blessings had set, whose knowledge and actions had enlightened the hearts and minds of the great intellects and people of Samarqand, Bukhara, Baghdad and Nīshāpūr.

His acceptance by Allah's Messenger sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam
Imām Bukhārī devoted his entire life, in the search for the way of life given by the Holy Prophet sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam, in acting upon his sayings and researching into this science. His each and every action was a fragment of the way of the Messenger. Warrāq stated: "In a dream, I once saw Imām Bukhārī walking behind the Prophet sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam and his feet would fall exactly where the feet of the blessed Prophet had fallen."

Farbarī stated: "Once in a dream, I met the Holy Prophet sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam and he asked me, 'Where are you going?' I replied, 'To Muhammad ibn Ismā`īl [al-Bukhārī].' He then said, 'Go, and give him my salām.'"

Just as the Holy Prophet sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam had happiness with Imām Bukhārī during his lifetime, he was also pleased with him after his death. Concerning this, `Abd al-Wāhid ibn Ādam Awaysī stated: "I saw the Holy Prophet sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam in my sleep standing with a group of his Companions. I asked, 'O Prophet sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam, who are you waiting for?' He replied, 'For Bukhārī.' After a few days I heard the news of Imām Bukhārī's passing away. He had died at the very moment that I saw the Prophet sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam in my dream."

The Janāzah prayer was performed over Imām Bukhārī and his body was covered with soil. A beautiful musk smell exuded from the earth of his grave which lasted for several days. People from far and wide began to visit it in astonishment and also took handfuls of earth from his grave for blessings (tabarruk).

Abul-Fath as-Samarqandī relates: "two hundred years after the death of Imām Bukhārī, a drought struck Samarqand. The people made the istisqā' prayer and invocations but rain did not fall. A saintly man came to the judge (Qādī) of the city and gave him some advice. He said: 'With the people of the city, go to the grave of Imām Bukhārī and invoke Allāh the Exalted there to give you rain. Perhaps Allāh will accept our invocations and give us rain.' The judge of the city accepted this advice with delight and proceeded to go to the grave. The people followed him and upon arrival, he prayed for rain in front of them at the grave. People wept and also sought the intercession of the one who was in the grave. At that moment, clouds gathered and Allāh sent such heavy rain that those who were in Kharteng could not reach Samarqand for seven days because of the rain's abundance.

Imām Bukhārī was not only a scholar, worshipper, a devotee and a prosperous man, but he always feared Allāh and shone with the love of the Messenger sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam. The virtuous outpourings he gave to the world during his life are still being given today and as the Muslim Ummah goes about its daily acts of worship, they realise how important the role played by Imām Bukhārī was. He compiled and circulated the Ahādīth of the Prophet wherever possible and Allāh spread his status to every corner of the world. It is a fact that as long as the traditions of the Holy Prophet sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam (qīla and qāla) are mentioned in gatherings, lights and blessings will shower onto the grave of Imām al-Bukhārī from the skies of the Most Merciful.

© Minhaj-ul-Qur'an Monthly Magazine, March 1995, pp. 30-37


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