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His Linage:

He is Abu Abdullah Muhammad bin Ismail bin Ibrahim bin al-Mughirah bin Bardizbah. Ibn Hajar explained that it is most appropriately pronounced as 'Bardizbah', a word that is of Persian origin. His grandfather, Bardizbah, embraced Islam in the hands of both Yaman al-Bukhari, the ruler of Bukhara, and Yaman Ja'fi. He was thus linked to the later because he was his senior master. This was based on the opinion that says that the person you embrace Islam in his hands was your master. For his grandfather, Ibrahim, there are no information about him. However, biography of his father, Ismail, has been documented by Ibn Hibban and he said: "Ismail bin Ibrahim, the father al-Bukhari, was trustworthy. He reported hadith from Hammad bin Zayd and Malik, and the people of Iraq reported from him too." Ibn hajar also wrote about him in his book 'Tahdhib at-Tahdhib'.

 

His Birth:

He was born in Bukhara on a Friday after Jumat prayers, 13th of Shawwal 194AH.

 

His Upbringing and Search for Knowledge:

His lost his dad at a tender age and thus grew under the mother's eye-watch. He started seeking for knowledge from a very young age. His scribe, Muhammad bin Abu Hatim, was reported by al-Firabri to have said that he heard Imam Bukhari spoke about himself saying: "I was inspired to memorize the hadith while I was still memorizing the Qur'an". I said to him: "How old were you then?" He replied: "Ten or less." He continued till he said: "When I was around sixteen years of age, I had already committed to memory the books of ibn Mubarak and Waki' and understood their statements . after that, I went for hajj in the company of my mother and brother, and when I attained eighteen, I wrote the book 'Matters of the Companions and Tabi'in' and the 'The History of Madinah' by the grave of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in the full-moon nights." He said: "And there was hardly a name in history that I had no story about, only that I despised making bulky the book."

 

His Journeys for search of Knowledge and Hearing Hadith:

He started searching for knowledge at a very young age. This made him first learn from the scholars of his place, such as Muhammad bin Sallam, Muhammad bin Yusuf, Abdullah bin Muhammad al-Musnadi, ibn al-Ash'ath etc.  He and his elder brother went for hajj in the company of their mum in the year 210 AH. He remained in Madinah in search of knowledge while the other two returned. In Makkah, he took from al-Humaydi and others; and in  Madinah he took from Abdul Aziz al-Uwaysi and others. Thereafter, he travelled to many other places, like Khurrasan, Sham, Egypt, Iraq etc, to learn from scholars of those areas. He visited Baghdad several times and was accorded over there much respect after acknowledging his vast knowledge in both memorization and comprehension. He took from a very huge number of scholars all over the then Islamic world mostly scholars in hadith. It was reported of his that he said: "I wrote from a thousand and eighty persons all people of hadith." He also said: "I did not write except from people that proclaimed Iman to be both word and deed."

 

His Intelligence and Strong memory:

He was known for  an extra ordinary swift and retentive memory. Those who knew his condition have narrated stories about him that keep even the most intelligent amazed let alone others. Abubakr al-Kaldhawani said: "I have never seen a person like Muhammad bin Ismail. He would take a book of knowledge, have just a single glance through it and as such has committed all the details of the hadith at once."

Muhammad bin Abu Hatim, Bukhari's scribe, said: "I asked Bukhari whether he memorized everything in his book, and he said: "Everything in it is known to me."

Muhammad bin Hamdawayh said: "I heard Bukhari saying that he memorized a hundred thousand sound hadith and two hundred unsound others".

Muhammad bin al-Azhar as-Sajastani said: "I was in the sitting of Sulaiman bin Harb and Bukhari was present listening but not writing. Some people were asked why he was not writing, and they replied that he did listen and later wrote down from his memory when he got to Bukhara."

Perhaps, the strangest information transmitted about him on this is what Abu Ahmad ibn Adi reported in 'The History of Baghdad' , 'Deaths of the Distinguished' and other books. He said that I have heard several scholars narrating that Bukhari came to Baghdad and the people of hadith learnt of that. They gathered themselves and wanted to put his memory capability to a test. Thus, they intentionally took one hundred hadith and twisted their chains of narrators against their texts. They then handed ten hadith to each of ten people to present to Bukhari when he comes to a summoned gathering. The gathering was called and Bukhari and many other scholars from both strangers and non strangers from Khurasan and Baghdad attended. After being curtained of the huge gathering, the ten men started throwing their twisted hadith on to him one after the other and he replied "I do not know it". So he replied continuously to their questions until they all completed the hundred hadith. While this was going on, those who knew hadith looked at one another in affirmation of his memory and those ignorant of hadith knowledge thought he was a dullard. Nonetheless, when he realized they had completed all they had, he then turned to the first person and answered to his question. He read to each and every one of them what they asked and how they read them, and then gave them the correct and appropriate form in which it was supposed to be. This he did for all the one hundred hadith without missing a word, returning all the texts to their actual and real chains of narrators. On seeing this, the people concurred and accepted him as their master in hadith and soundness of memory. Ibn Hajar commented on this story saying: "Here comes the humbleness before Bukhari. It was not strange for him to correct the mistakes, because he was a hafidh (i.e. one who memorized a lot of hadith), but his ability to arrange what was thrown to him for a first instance without a mistake."

 

Examples of People's Commendation for Him:

Imam Bukhari has been exalted and valued by his teachers, colleagues and even those that came after him. His outstanding traits have been gathered by the great scholars  Az-Zahbi and ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani in their books as they both stated in some of their books. But here, it will suffice mentioning some of these praises.

Tirmidhi said: "Muhammad bin Ismail (i.e. Bukhari) was with Abdullah bin Munir and he said to him when he, Bukhari, got up 'May Allah make you the beauty of this Ummah'. And Allah accepted his prayers for him.

Muhammad bin Hatim, Bukhari's scribe said: "I overheard Yahya bin Ja'far al-Baykandi saying: 'If I could add my age to that of Muhammad bin Ismail (i.e. Bukhari) I would do so, because my death would be the death of one man while his own would be a loss to knowledge".

Ahmad bin Hanbal said: "Khurasan has never produced a person like Muhammad bin Ismail."

Raja' bin Raja' said: "He (referring to Bukhari) is a sign amongst the signs of Allah walking on the surface of this earth."

Abu Abdullah al-Hakim, in his book 'the History of Naysabur', said: "He is the Imam of the people of hadith undisputed among them."

Imam Ibn Khuzaymah said: "I have never seen under the skies anyone who knew and memorized the hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him) better than Muhammad bin Ismail al-Bukhari."

Muhammad bin Ya'qub al-Akhram said: "He is the Imam of the Muslims, the model of the people of hadith, sheikh of the believers, a dependable source in matters of the hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the preserver of the Islamic religious system."

 

His Books:

Imam Bukhari has presented the Islamic Library with valuable literatures, with his book al-Jami' as-Sahih, which is the most authentic book on hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him) making the top of the list. Among his books are: al-Adab al-Mufrad, Raising both Hands in Salat, Reciting behind the imam, Obedience to parents, at-Tarikh al-Kabir, at-Tarikh al-Awsat, at-Tarikh as-Saghir etc.

 

Attention paid by Scholars to his Biography:

When Imam Bukhari decided to devote his time to recording the hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him), purifying it from all forms of indents and sorting out the authentic ones from the weak and fabricated ones, Allah granted him a honourable mention in the generations after him. Thus, people right from his time hitherto continue to mention him with good and write about him as well as give much attention to his book al-Jami' as-Sahih. In fact, there is no history and biography book written after him that did not make a mention of him.

Al-Hafiz az-Zahbi, after narrating some of his outstanding features in his ´Tadhkirat al'Huffadh´,  said: "I have dedicated a huge section for the outstanding features of this Imam and in it are wonders."

Al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar said: "He has so many outstanding features that I collected in a separate book and summarized the goals at the end in which I commented on al-Jami' as-Sahih."

The words and statements of the scholars about Imam Bukhari are much and just nothing but very little can be mentioned here.

Below is a table of some published books containing his biography, the authors of the books, dates and number of pages entailing it. This is to help anyone interested in getting information about him do so easily.

S/N

Author & Date of Death

Book Title

No. of Pages of the Biography

First Page

The Volume (or Part)

Publication Date & Place

1

Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi (d 463AH)

The History of Baghdad

31

4

2

Egypt (1349AH)

2

Kadi Muhammad bin Abu Ya´la (d 526AH)

Categories of the Hanabilites

9

271

1

Egypt

3

Ibn Khalikan (d 681AH)

Deaths of The Distinguished

3

309

3

Egypt (1367)

4

Al-Hafiz az-Zahabi (d 748AH)

Tadhkirat al-Huffadh

2

134

2

Hydar Abad, India

5

Ibn as-Subki (d 771AH)

Tabaqat ash-Shafi'iyyah al-Kubra

18

2

2

Egypt (1324)

6

Ibn Kathir (d 774AH)

Al-Bidayah wa an-Nihayah

3

24

11

Egypt

7

Ibn Hajar (d 852AH)

Hady as-Sari

17

255

2

Egypt (1383)

8

Ibn Hajar (d 852AH)

Tahdhib at-Tahdhib

9

47

9

Hydar Abad

9

Al-Alimi al-Hanbali (d 928AH)

Al-Manhaj al-Ahmad

4

133

1

Egypt (1383)

10

Ibn al-Ammad al-Hanbali (d 1089AH)

Shadharat adh-Dhahab

2

134

2

Egypt (1350)

11

Siddiq Hasan Khan (d 1307 AH)

At-Taj al-Mukallal

3

106

0

India (1382)

 

His Death and Age:

Imam Bukhari died in a village called Khartanak in Samarqand on a Saturday night after Isha prayers. It was also the night prior to eid al-Fitr day and was buried on the day of the eid after Dhurh prayers, in the year 256 AH. He was sixty-one years old.

 

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