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 SAHIH AL-BUKHARI

 

The Title:

His book from the beginning hitherto is famous amongst the people as "Sahih al-Bukhari". Although, it was called "al-Jami' as-Sahih" by the author himself while discussing the motive behind his authoring the book, yet Ibn Hajar proclaimed in his fath al-Bari that the full name of the book is "al-Jami' as-Sahih al-Musnad min Hadith Rasulillah (PBUH) wa Sunanihi wa Ayyamihi". And Ibn as-Salah, in his "Sciences of Hadith", said that the book is called " al-Jami' al-Musnad as-Sahih al-Mukhtasar min Umur Rasulillah (PBUH) wa Sunanihi wa Ayyamihi.

 

The Objective for Authoring :

Al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar mentioned in his book "fath al-Bari" three reasons that made Imam Bukhari author his great book. They are:

1-           That he found out that the books authored before his were very comprehensive, but contained all forms of ahadith that could be categorized among the sahih (sound), and hasan (good), with many others being da'eef (weak). This, he said, motivated him to collect together in one book ahadith that no trust worthy and sincere individual would have a doubt over their authenticity.

2-           His intention was geared up by what he heard from his great hadith and fiqh teacher, Ishaq bin Ibrahim al-Handhali popularly known as Ibn Rahawayh, when he said on his stated authority that "We were with Ishaq ibn Rahawayh when he said: 'I wish you could collect together a concise book for the authentic sahih (sound) sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH)', and that sank into my heart, thus I started collecting the sound narrations".

3-           Based on authentic chain of narrators, Muhammad bin Sulaiman bin Faris said that he overheard Bukhari saying: "I say the Prophet (PBUH) as if I was standing before him with a fan in my hand with which I was defending him. I then asked some dream translators who told me that I was protecting him from lies. This was what moved me to authoring al-Jami' as-Sahih.

 

His Commitment to Authoring the Book:

Imam Bukhari spared no effort in his commitment to this great book. This is explicit from what scholars reported of him. Al-Farbari stated that he, Bukhari, said: "I did not include any hadith in my book as-Sahih except after a ritual bath and offering two rakats". Umar bin Muhammad al-Buhairi said that he said: "I never added a single hadith to it (i.e. al-Jami' as-Sahih) except after I had did istikharah (i.e. a special prayer observed for seeking Allah's guidance), offered two rakats and am well convinced of its authenticity". Abdul Rahman bin Rasayn al-Bukhari narrated that he, Bukhari, said: "I authored my book 'as-Sahih' before I was ten. I sieved it out from six hundred thousand hadith and made it a proof between me and Allah".

 

The Subject Matter of al-Jami' as-Sahih:

The authentic sound ahadith of the Prophet (PBUH) was the topic of his book al-Jami' as-Sahih. This was just exactly what prompted his authoring the book. The following further confirms this fact:

1-           Naming the book "al-Jami' as-Sahih al-Musnad min Ahadith Rasulillah (PBUH) wa Sunanihi wa Ayyamihi".

2-           His explicate pronouncement of it to be the reason behind his authoring the book. This we could understand from the little we already quoted from his statements. Among others not quoted is the narration of al-Isma'eeli that Imam Bukhari said: "I did not author this book except for sound authentic ahadith and yet the sound authentic ahadith I left out are much." Ibrahim bin Mu'qil narrated that he said: "I did not include in my book "al-Jami'" except authentic sound ahadith and I had to let go so many sound authentic ahadith for fear of bulkiness".

 

The Contents of al-Jami' as-Sahih:

Aside the fact that the book contained authentic ahadith of the Prophet (PBUH), which is its subject matter, it also contains some ta'leeqat, inferences, quotations etc. Ibn Hajar noted that "he  also felt not to make it free of many other benefits on fiqh and wise verdicts. Thus he deduced from the main texts so many benefits which he distributed all over the book in accordance with the befitting chapters. In them, he took in to consideration jurisprudential verses from the Glorious Qur'an and made very useful and beneficial magnificent deductions which to a wide range helps towards explaining the main texts.

As such, Imam Bukhari successfully combined in his book, al-Jami' as-sahih, between narration and comprehension in preserving the sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) and its understanding.

 

Ta'leeqat in Sahih al-Bukhari:

Ta'leeq is the art of concealing a narrator or more from the chain of narrators at the beginning or end of the chain. This is much in Sahih al-Bukhari while very scanty in the Sahih of Muslim. Ibn Hajar authored a book entitled "Ta'leeq al-Ta'leeq" in which he completed all the chains of narrators in the Ta'leeqats of Imam Bukhari from other sources where they were completed. He also summarized this book in the beginning of his book "Fath al-Bari" completing the chains of narrators as well as referring to where such chains were completed. Ibn Hajar continued: "I have no knowledge of anyone who endeavoured writing in this matter…I have explained what (among the ta'leeqats) he completed their chains elsewhere in this his book or in another of his books, and those we could not find in his books, we completed them from other scholars' works".

In a nut shell, the verdict regarding to Ta'leeqats is that what came in the form of certainty such as 'He said', 'He narrated', 'He came' etc in its active form, is considered authentic to whom it was hung upon (among the narrators) and thereafter, what comes after it is looked into. However, what came in the passive form such as 'It was said', It was narrated', etc does not indicate nor contravene authenticity. Ibn kathir mentioned this in his concise work on  "Muqaddimat Ibn as-Salah" and said: "this is so because it has come in such forms and yet was authentic, perhaps transmitted by Muslim."  Ibn Hajar also spoke on it in the beginning of al-Fath and said, after mentioning the first form: "The second form is the unsound form. It does not indicate authenticity. However, there are authentic ones amongst them and weak ones too".

 

The Number of Ahadith in Sahih al-Bukhari:

Ibn Hajar in introduction of his al-Fath has worked on the number of Ahadith contained in Sahih al-Bukhari explaining those that are narrated with full and complete chain of narrators and those that are Mu'allaqah. Below is a summary of what he had:

1-   The number of ahadith with complete and joint chain of narrators, including all the repeated ones is 7397.

2-   The number is ahadith that are Mu'allaqat with linked chains and repeated is 1341.

3-   The number of those with observations and continuations not withstanding their different narrations is 344.

4-   The number of those with completely linked chains, Mu'allaqat and continuations with repetitions is 9082.

5-   The number of ahadith with linked and complete chains, without repetitions is 2602.

6-   The number of ahadith that are Mu'allaqat without repetitions is 159.

These numbers are only for the ones linked to the Prophet (PBUH), separate from others in the book that halt with a companion or a tabi'i. ibn Hajar, after mentioning the numbers, explained that what he has differed sharply from what Ibn as-Salah had. This refers to what Ibn as-Salah said that without the repeated ones they numbered four thousand Hadith. He further explained that the said number of four thousand could be a calculation reached at by thinking a lengthy hadith differs from another elsewhere that is similar but short, and this could be because of the long time of acquaintance with it or little knowledge of the art.

 

The Secret Behind His Repeatition of One Hadith in One or More Areas in His Book:

It is well known that Imam Bukhari really never wanted a concise work in his sahih by merely listing ahadith. In fact, aside collecting authentic and sound ahadith, he wanted deducing what these ahadith entailed in verdicts and rulings. This is why he deduces a ruling from a single hadith, making it the heading and then narrating same hadith beneath as a proof for the ruling. Thereafter, he deduces a different provision from same hadith, thus making it its heading and relating it once again under the heading as a proof for the new ruling deduced. Therefore, the repetition is for evidencing to proof that whenever a hadith is repeated it portrayed a new inference. This he did for every new teacher of his different from the one from whom he had the first inference or ruling from, which also showed his reporting of one hadith from several chains of narrators. This was why Ibn Hajar reported Abu al-Fadl ibn Tahir al-Maqdisi saying: "And it is rear for him to narrate one hadith in two different places with the same chain of narrators and same wordings".  Ibn Hajar gave so many reasons at the beginning of his "al-Fath" why Bukhari repeated one hadith in different places in his book.

 

Chapters of Sahih al-Bukhari:

Ibn Hajar qualified the Bukhari's manner of chapters selection to be very unique and mind bewildering in its meticulousness compared to his colleagues. He explicated his talks on this in the beginning of his book "Fah al-Bari" saying that he provided some to be replica of what he reported under them whether in total verbatim or partly or in meaning. Many a time did he make chapters in interrogative form when he was not convinced of either of its connotations, or in the command tune such that the aim is not easily fetched except after pondering over it. For example, when he says "Chapter of a Man saying We have not observed Salat", in which he intends replying with it such a person who hated using such words… with issues like these and many more, Bukhari attained fame among others and many great scholars adopted a common saying: "The Fiqh of Bukhari in His Chapters".

 

Bukhari's Stipulation in His Sahih:

Ibn Hajar reports in the beginning of his al-Fath that Ibn Tahir al-Maqdisi said: "Bukhari's stipulation was to report only those ahadith whose chains of narrators are agreed upon by all to have transmitted the hadith up to the known companion of the Prophet (PBUH) without divergence of opinions among the trusted and confirmed (scholars) with a linked and complete chain. It is better if a companion has two or more persons transmitting from him. But if only one transmitter and the chain is authentic, then it sufficed."  In supporting the fact that Bukhari's book is of more authenticity than that of Muslim, ibn hajar has this to say: "As for its preference from the aspect of linked-chain it is because he made it a condition that the transmitter or narrator must have made a confirmed meeting with the person he narrated or transmitted from even if once, while Imam Muslim was contented with only being alive in same period of time.

 

Learned Scholars commend and accept Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim:

Ibn hajar said in the beginning of his al-Fath that "I have seen Imam Bukhari in his al-Jami' as-Sahih took upon himself to extract from the light of the Qur'an and Sunnah in affirmation and inference, and was blessed with a sincere intention in what he collected, such that even both his supporters and non supporters listened to him and received his words in his sahih with acceptance".

Ibn Kathir said in his al-Bidayah wa an-Nihayah: "All the scholars agreed on accepting it (i.e. Sahih al-Bukhari) and the authenticity of what it contained, including all other sects in islam too."

Ibn as-Subki said: "As for his book al-Jami' as-Sahih, it is the most significant book in Islam after the Book of Allah…"

Abu 'Amr ibn as-Salah said in his Sciences of hadith, after stating that Bukhari was the first to write on Sahih and then Muslim: "And the both books of theirs are the most authentic books after the Glorious Book of Allah… however, the book of Bukhari is more authentic with more benefits.."

An-Nawawi said in the beginning of his explanation of Sahih Muslim that "All the scholars (Allah have mercy on them) have agreed that the most authentic books after the Glorious Qur'an are the two Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim. The Ummah has received them with acceptance and Bukhari's book is of more authenticity, benefit and knowledge of both the explicit and obsqure. It was confirmed too that Imam Muslim was among those who benefitted from Bukhari's book and admitted that Bukhari had no equal in the art of hadith.."

These are but a pinch of salt from the numerous eulogies of scholars rained upon Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim alike, to show their lofty status and acceptance from the Ummah.

 

Aspects That Made Sahih al-Bukhari More Authentic Than Sahih Muslim:

The statements of some scholars have earlier been quoted clearly stating the significance of Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim in the Ummah, as well as placing Sahih al-Bukhari above Sahih Muslim. This status was granted based on certain issues:

1-           The number of narrators Bukhari solely reported from aside Muslim are about four hundred and thirty something. And those with derogatorily spoken about amongst them are eighty in number. But those that Muslim singlehandedly transmitted from aside Bukhari are six hundred and twenty with a hundred and sixty of them derogatorily spoken about. There is no doubt that reporting from someone that has no derogatory talk about him at all is better than the other, even if the derogatory talk is not enough to disqualify his narration.

2&3-  Those narrators of Bukhari from whom he reported hadith and are derogatorily talked about are his teachers that he met, sat with and had a whole deal of knowledge about them, and yet he did not report many hadith from them. This is not the case of Muslim in both matters.

4-           Bukhari made as a condition that the reporter of a hadith must have met physically with the person he was reporting from even if just once. But Muslim was satisfied with mere living in same period of time even if did not meet. This is a clear reason to place Bukhari's work above Muslim's.

5-           The number of hadith criticized in the work of Bukhari are less in number than those criticized in that of Muslim.

These aspects are as they are in addition to the fact that all the scholars unanimously agreed that Bukhari is more knowledgeable than Muslim in this art that Muslim was his student who in person confirmed that Bukhari was greater in the field and a great Imam.

However, this weighting between the two books based on a wholesome thing and not based on individual hadith contained inside the books. This is Imam as-Suyuti's take.

As for the statement of some other scholars who said that Sahih Muslim is placed above Sahih al-Bukhari, it is based on the well tailored context, arrangement and quality, but not on the authenticity.

 

Bukhari's Sheikhs (teachers) and Their Categories:

The author of 'Kashfudh-Dhunun' stated that the total number of Bukhari's sheikhs that he reported hadith from in his Sahih is two hundred and eighty-nine. And those he single handedly reported from without Muslim are One hundred and thirty-four in number.

Ibn Hajar in his al-Fath classified the sheikhs to be within five categories:

Category One: Those who narrated to him hadith from the tabi'in e.g.Muhammad bin Abdullah al-Ansari who narrated to him from Humayd, Makki bin Ibrahim who narrated to him from Yazid bin Abi Ubayd, Asim an-Nabil who narrated to him from Yazid bin Abi Ubayd…etc. All the sheikhs of all those teachers (or sheikhs) of his are among the tabi'in.

Category Two: Those who were of the same generation with the first category, but they could not hear from the trustworthy tabi'in, e.g. Adam bin Abi Iyas, Abu Mushir Abdul A'la bin Mushir, Sa'eed bin Abi Maryam, ayyub bin Sulaiman bin Bilal and their likes…

Category Three: These are the mid class of his sheikhs. They are those who did not meet the tabi'in but are the most elderly following those after the tabi'in, like Sulaiman bin Harb, Qutaybah bin Sa'eed, Na'eem bin Hammad, Ali bin al-Madini, Ahmad ibn Hambal, Ishaq ibn Rahawayh and their likes. Muslim witnessed with him this category of scholars and they both learnt from them.

Category Four: His mate in studies and search for knowledge and those that heard hadith a little before him, e.g. Muhammad bin Yahya, Abu Hatim ar-Razi, Muhammad bin Abdul-Raheem Sa'iqah, Ahmad bin an-Nadhr and a group of his mate.

Category Five: Those that are counted to be of the age of his students and chain of narration but he heard from them for benefit purposes, like Abdullah bin Hammad al-Amili, Abullah bin Abi al-'As al-Khawarizmi, Husein bin Muhammad al-Qabbani and others. He reported a very few ahadith from these category. He actually implemented in reporting from them what Uthman bin Shaybah narrated Waki' saying, that "A man is not yet a (true) scholar until he narrates from those elderly to him, those that are at his level and those below him". In same manner Imam Bukhari was reported to have said: "A muhaddith is not a (true) muhaddith unless he writes from those above him, those at his level and those below him."

 

Scholars' Praises of Bukhari's Transmitters in His Sahih and the Criticism of Some:

The comment of ash-Shaukani on the hadith of 'Anyone who makes my waliy an enemy', where he stated: "All his narrators have crossed  the mark, rose above gossip and became mightier than what could be degraded with words or discredited by anyone."

al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar said at the beginning of his al-Fath: "And sheikh Aby al-Hasan al-Maqdisi used to say about those he narrated from that they have crossed the pass mark and any talk by anyone about them mattered no more." Ibn Hajar also said in his 'Sharh an-Nukhbah' that "the transmitters in the two authentic books (i.e. Bukhari and Muslim) have attained the unanimous agreement of the Ummah on their integrity. They are placed above any other transmitter aside them, and this is a fact that none can counter except with a sound proof." This is why some scholars, while talking about some narrators, it sufficed them to say such and such is a transmitter in the two sahih books.

Nonetheless, some scholars had criticized about eighty of the transmitters in sahih al-Bukhari. Ibn Hajar made mention of this in his al-Fath and excluded a section where he listed all the said transmitters one after the other. He said: "The ninth section is on listing the names of all his transmitters that were discredited alphabetically, with sincere and just answers to each and every discredit assigned to them." Futher more in another paragraph of the section, he said: "Before delving into this issue, it should be known to every just  person that transmitting authentic hadith from any transmitter entails such transmitter's level of integrity, his accuracy and inaccuracy before the reporter. This is in addition to the fact that all the scholars of the ummah have unanimously accepted the two books to be authentic, which never happened for those he reported hadith from in his other works. This is, therefore, as if all the scholars agreed that all the transmitters in the two books are integrity worthy. This is the fact about all those he reported from in the main body of the book. But as for those he reported from in his Ta'liqats, Mutaba'at, and Shawahid in the book, they differ in their levels of accuracy and integrity. In this case, if any of the transmitters in these parts of the book is found wanting by a scholar either in his integrity, or general accuracy, or even his accuracy in a specific narration, it is based only on the view of such scholar, and thus a clear proof is required to make his claim either acceptable or rejected. This is because of the fact that reasons for discrediting a transmitter differ between that which actually can discredit and that which cannot."

Thereafter, he stated the five reasons that discrediting a transmitter of hadith revolved around, namely: innovation (heresy), contradiction, blunder, unknown condition and break in chain of transmitters. He discussed all the five facts in details with regards to the transmitters in Bukhari, and finally noted that all what they were discredited with are not actually on their own discrediting reasons.

Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, in Principles of Transmitting Hadith, said: "Among the transmitters of Bukhari and Muslim that have been openly discredited by some others, it is taken to be that such is not confirmed about such reasons that can affect…"

Al-Hafiz adh-Dhahabi said in his "Chapter on Those Reliable Ones Whom were Discredited with Reasons Not Enough To Reject Them: "I have written in my book 'al-Mizan' a huge number of reliable transmitters who Bukhari, Muslim and others reported from just because such names have been written in books of defamation. However, I have not listed them for defamation in them but only for that to be known. And yet, I have written names of reliable persons with worthy integrity that have been discredited with reasons that do not count."

 

Some Scholars' Criticism of Some Ahadith in Sahih al-Bukhari and Answers to Them:

Ibn Hajar said that al-Hafiz ad-Darqutuni and some others had criticized about two hundred and ten hadith in Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim. In these hadith, they have thirty-two in common, while Bukhari has seventy-eight isolatedly and Muslim a hundred alone. He then secluded a chapter of the book to speak extensively on the matter. He said: "In a nut shell, the answer to this is that there is no doubt that Bukhari followed by Muslim have been placed above all their other contemporaries and those after them of the Imams of this art in knowing that which is authentic and that which is otherwise…if it has been agreed upon and is known that they both will never report a hadith except it is authentic and free of defect, or has a defect but not such that affects the authenticity; which as a matter of fact repels the criticism in summary. If this is done, then the criticism in detail encompasses the following hadith:

-                     What the transmitters differ on by addition or reduction among the chain of transmitters.

-                     What the transmitters differ in by changing some of the chain of transmitters.

-                     What a transmitter alone differs with by addition from others who are more in narrations and better in accuracy and yet they did not narrate such.

-                     What some transmitters differ in isolation with by transmitting from discredited transmitters.

-                     What some of its transmitters were judged to be taken by illusion.

-                     What had divergent opinions on some specific words of its main text.

While he mentioned all these categories, he also gave answers to each and every one of them citing examples of the said ahadith to prove his points. He then said: "This is a collection of the groups of what Imams criticized in Sahih al-Bukhari, and here, I have categorized, detailed and explained them. There is nothing evident in them that affected the main subject of the book. Thanks be to Allah". He then said towards the end of the chapter that "this is all that the critiques scholars with sound knowledge of this art had against this book…and if the just one takes his time to ponder over what I have explained herein, he would value the author greatly, magnify the book and absolve the scholars from guilt for receiving it with total acceptance and submission, as well as placing it forth before any other authored book on Hadith hitherto."

 

Scholars Attention for Sahih al-Bukhari:

To make a long story short, Sahih al-Bukhari is the book authored explicitly for authentic hadith and is the most authentic book after the Glorious Qur'an. Its chain of transmitters are placed first before any other and its ahadith, with their huge numbers, could not be criticized by all the great scholars of the art that came after, except for a very scanty number of hadith which the criticism against them could not be totally justified. Despite all these, the author successfully gathered in his book a great deal of both transmitted and comprehended knowledge. For these reasons and many more, the scholars through history have paid so much attention to this book. They devoted so much of their precious time for services to it between summarizing its contents, explaining them from the beginning to the end or part of it, writing about its chains of transmitters, the author's sheikhs and so on and so forth. Of these scholars is Ahmad bin Hajar al-Asqalani who wrote his great book "Fath al-Bari" with an extraordinary introduction. As the author of the book "Sahih al-Bukhari" could be given perfection in selecting the contents, so also can we say Ibn Hajar was granted perfection in the services he rendered the book . May Allah reward them all.

 

Exerting Pressure on Learners is Detrimental to them:

This is because going beyond limit is disadvantageous to a learner especially in the little children. Those who learn under pressure and force are usually devoid of the activeness in knowledge and self delight. This causes laziness, make someone lie and malicious, usually portraying what is not in the mind, for fear of forced against his knowledge. Therefore, such characters will remain his habit, causing the corruption of humanity in terms of socialization and practice to him. This ultimately, is what is called protectorate, defending himself and family, and thus becoming a nuisance to others.

In fact, laziness in deriving good characters and moral excellence drives one to shutting oneself off her objectives and the heights of her humanity, hence making of her the least of the debased. This is exactly the end of all nations that controlled those under them with force and extremity. You can see this evident in the Jewish nation, to the extent that they being known from far and wide all through history for oppression. This in the famous scientific term is maliciousness and conspiracy.

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