Muhammad al-Bukhari, the Great Muslim Hadith Scholar

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In Islam, we place a lot of importance on scholars. This is because they embody knowledge and Almighty Allah (SWT) admonished us several times in the Qur’an to value and appreciate knowledge and people of knowledge. One of the greatest Islamic scholars to have ever walked this planet is none other than Muhammad al-Bukhari and this piece is about him. Born Muhammad ibn Islami ibn Ibrahim ibn al-Mughirah ibn Bardizbah al-Jufi al-Bukhari in 810 in Bukhara in modern-day Uzbekistan, he was better known as Imam Bukhari or Imam al-Bukhari.

This great Islamic scholar from Central Asia wrote the impressive collection of hadiths that is well known as Sahih al Bukhari and it is respected all over the Muslim world as one of the most authentic (also called sahih) collection of hadiths. A prodigious author, Imam Bukhari also wrote many other works and one such is the Al-Adab al-Mufrad.

A quick look at his background shows that his father, Ismail ibn Ibrahim, was also an accomplished scholar of the hadiths. His father was not just any hadith scholar, he also learned from and associated with the great Muslim theologian Malik ibn Anas. Hence, he came from a lineage of scholars and it was his great grandfather Al-Mughirah who settled in the city of Bukhara following his acceptance of Islam.

This great scholar of Islam started his study of the hadiths quite early and even as a child, he had committed the works of Abdullah ibn al-Mubaarak to his memory. As his father died when he was just in his infancy, his upbringing was done by his mother. By the time he became an adolescent at the age of 18, he was already so good at hadiths that he commenced writing books and giving narrations of hadiths.

An interesting aspect of the life of Imam Bukhari is that he did everything possible to seek knowledge. Even as a teenager, he did the pilgrimage to Mecca with his mother and brother, and from the Holy Land, he travelled vastly. His purpose for the travels was to learn as much as he could about the hadiths. There was no major center or school of Islamic learning of his time that he did not visit. His urge and thirst for knowledge made him hold sessions with scholars and he did intellectual exchanges with them on hadiths. Tradition has it that Imam Bukhari went as far as hearing from and interacting from more than 1,000 men and in the process, he learned more than 600,000 hadiths.

He journeyed across the globe for sixteen years before returning to Bukhara. Upon his return to his home city, he commenced work on his Al-Jami’ As-Sahih which is now highly regarded. This was a collection of more than 7,200 hadiths. His work is so excellent that it is seen as the highest in terms of the authenticity of all books of hadiths. Today, billions of Muslims still consult his work to learn more about the faith itself and deepen their knowledge of the hadiths. May Almighty Allah (SWT) grant Imam Bukhari the highest station in Al Jannah, aameen.