Muhammad al-Bukhari


Persian scholarMedieval era
Name: Muhammad al-Bukhari
Birth: 194 AH, Shawal 13
Death: 256 AH[1]
Influences: Ahmad ibn Hanbal[1]Ali ibn al-Madini[1]Yahya ibn Ma’in[3]
Influenced: Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj[4]
For other uses, see Al-Bukhari (name)

Popularly known as just Bukhari, Al-Bukhari or Imam Bukhari (810870), he was a famous Sunni Islamic scholar of Persian ancestry,[1] most known for authoring the hadith collection named Sahih Bukhari, a collection which Sunni regard as the most authentic (Arabic: Sahih) collection after the Qur’an.[1]


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See also
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His full name is Muhammad Ibn Ismail Ibn Ibrahim Ibn al-Mughirah Ibn Bardiziyeh al-Bukhari (Arabic: محمد بن اسماعيل بن ابراهيم بن المغيرة بن بردزبه البخاري).

Early life (810-820)

Bukhari was born in July 20, 810 CE (Shawal 13, 194 AH[citation needed]) in the city of Bukhara, in what is today Uzbekistan. His father, Ismail Ibn Ibrahim, was a known hadith scholar that died while Bukhari was young.

Sunnis praise his memory, saying he was:

endowed by nature with great intellectual powers, although he was physically frail. He possessed a sharp and photographic memory, and a great tenacity of purpose, which served him well in his academic life.[1]

Sunnis also state that he developed a power and speed of memory which seemed miraculous, even to his contemporaries. It is said by the age of 10, Imam Bukhari had memorised 70000 hadith by heart with their complete chain of narrations going from him to his teacher, and his teacher’s teacher, all the way to Muhammad.

Early education (820-826)

He underwent his early education under the guidance of his mother in his native city and by the age of eleven he finished his elementary studies and started to study hadith.[1]

During those studies, he at one time he corrected one of his teachers, who laughed at the audacity of the young student. Bukhari persited and referred to the books, who showed him to be correct. At the age of sixteen, he had learned the knowledge of all the scholars of hadith of Bukhara, as well as everything contained in the books which were available to him.[1]

Arabian peninsula travels

At age of sixteen, he, together with his brother and widowed mother made the pilgrimage to Mecca. From there he made a series of travels in order to increase his knowledge of hadith. He went through all the important centres of Islamic learning of his time, talked to scholars and exchanged information on hadith. It is recorded that he stayed at Basrah for four or five years, and in the Hijaz for six; while he travelled to Egypt twice and to Kufah and Baghdad many times.[1]

When the authorities in Basrah received information of his arrival, they fixed a time for him to deliver a lecture. At the lecture, he was able to confine himself only to such Hadith as he had received on the authority of the early Hadith scholars of Basrah, and had nonetheless been unknown to the audience.[1]

While in Baghdad, he was tested by ten Hadith scholars. They changed the Isnad and text of one hundred hadith, and asked Bukhari about them during a public meeting. He said that he was not familiar with those hadith, recited the un-changed versions and said that they had probably inadvertently recited them wrongly. This was repeated by four hundred scholars in Samarkand.[1]

Travels in the Islamic world

Already, in his eighteenth year[citation needed], he had devoted himself to the collection, study, proof-reading, organizing (arrangement) of traditions (Hadiths). For that purpose he travelled all over the Islamic world, all the way to Egypt, Syria, Arabia, and Iraq, seeking hadith narrators and listening to them. It is said that he heard from over 1,000 men, and learned over 600,000 traditions, both authentic and rejected ones[citation needed], and thus became the acknowledged authority on the subject After sixteen years’ absence he returned to Bukhara, and there drew up his al-Jami’ al-Sahih, a collection of 7275 tested traditions, arranged in chapters so as to afford bases for a complete system of jurisprudence without the use of speculative law, (see Islamic Law). His book is highly regarded among Sunni Muslims, and considered the most authentic collection of hadith (a minority of Sunni scholars consider Sahih Muslim, compiled by Bukhari’s student Imam Muslim, more authentic). Most Sunni scholars consider it second only to the Qur’an in terms of authenticity. He also composed other books, including al-Adab al-Mufrad, which is a collection of hadiths on ethics and manners, as well as two books containing biographies of hadith narrators (see isnad).

Last years (864-870)

At the age of 54, in the year 864 CE (250 AH), he came to the great Central Asian city of Neesaaboor (Nishapur?). He received a “grand reception” , wished to settle down there and devoted himself to teaching hadith.[1]

It was in Neesaaboor that he meet Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj.[1] He would be considered his student, and eventually authoured Sahih Muslim.

Khalid ibn Ahmad al-Dhuhali summoned him Bukhari to hold lectures at his palace, but Bukhari declined. This resulted in Bukhari being obliged to leave the town, and traveled to Khartank, a village near Bukhara, at the request of its inhabitants. He settled down there and died in the year 870 CE (256 AH), 60 years old.[1]

He died in banishment at Khartank, a suburb of Samarkand. His grave is still visited, and some believe that prayers are to be heard there.


Sunni sources portray that his collection of hadith became sort of an obsession of his. He used all of his money to travel, and at one occasion, he was so short of money that he lived on wild herbs for three days.[1]

On one occasion, it is said that he was travelling on a boat and had 500 gold coins with him to get him through his journey. While at sea, one of the people on the boat saw his money, and out of greed, he began screaming “I had 500 gold coins and someone has stolen it”. At that moment, Imam Bukhari threw his 500 gold coins in to the ocean. The whole boat was searched and no 500 gold coins was found. After arriving at their destination, the man asked Imam Bukhari, “what did you do with the money?”, he replied, “I threw it in the ocean”. Out of shock the man asked “why?”. Imam Bukhari replied, “I am compiling a book of the hadith of the Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him), I cannot allow anything to damage my reputation and discredit me”.

Theological position

His theological position was conservative and anti-Mu’tazili; he enjoyed the friendship and respect of Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, and was persecuted because he held to Ibn Hanbal’s views in matter of creed (Arabic: Aqidah), specially that the Qur’an is not created. His legal views appear to have been Shafi’ite and he has been verified by notable scholars (Ibn Hajar, Imam Subki) as a Shafi’ite.


He is also said to a have been a very good archer, gaining skill as a recreation. His Amanuensis is said to have written that Bukhari “often went out to practice his aim, and only twice during his sojourn with him did he see him miss the mark.”.[1]


His repeated trials and triumphs won him recognition as the greatest Hadith scholar of his time by all the major authorities with whom he came in contact, including Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Ali ibn al-Madini, Abu Bakar ibn Abi Shaybah, Ishaaq Ibn Raahawayh, and others.[1]

 Sunni view

Sunni Muslims view him as one of the greatest scholars of Islam, a great man for whose work the world’s Muslims have a lot in debt.

A Sunni source describes him thus:

Throughout his life, al-Bukhaaree displayed the character of a devout and pious Muslim scholar. He was rigorous in the observance of his religious duties, ensuring that rather than relying on charity he always lived by means of trade, in which he was scrupulously honest. Once he lost ten thousand dirhams on account of a minute scruple. A good deal of his income, in fact, was spent on helping the students and the poor. It is said that he never showed an ill-temper to anyone, even when there was more than sufficient cause; nor did he bear ill-will against anybody. Even towards those who had caused his exile from Neesaaboor, he harboured no grudge.[1]

Shi’a view

Shi’a do not have a very esteemed view towards him. However, this negative view is not comparable to the extremely negative view that Shi’a have towards, for example, Yazid I or Al-Hajjaj bin Yousef. In Shi’a view, Bukhari strove to preserve Islam, a commendable effort in Shi’a view.

Shi’a point out to other Sunni scholars whom they feel did not have this bias, for example, Bukharis student Imam Muslim, whom did include the hadith of the two weighty things in his Sahih Muslim, and also Sunni scholars that had the opposite view. For example, Hakim al-Nishaburi included a very high number of pro-Ahl al-Bayt hadith in his book entitled Al-Mustadrak alaa al-Sahihain, some hadith of which he claimed fulfilled Bukharis criteria of authenticity. Hakim however was accused by some of Shi’ism, and of including spurious narrations whilst declaring them sound — such that Sunni scholar adh-Dhahabi, author of Talkhis al-Mustadrak (an overview of the hadith in Hakim’s book), lamented: “It would have been better if al-Hakim had never compiled it.”[5] Another example would include Ali al-Hamdani, the authour of Mawaddat al-Qurba.


  • Sahih Bukhari
  • Al Adab Al Mufrad الأدب المفرد
  • al-Tarikh al-Kabir The big history, containing biographies of narrators, with a rating of each
  • al-Tarikh al-Saghir The little history


Wikisource has an original article from the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica about:


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r fatwa-online.com
  2. ^ http://en.wikisource.orghttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1911_Encyclop%C3%A6dia_Britannica/Bukh%C4%81r%C4%AB
  3. ^ http://www.islamweb.net/ver2/archive/article.php?lang=E&id=39213
  4. ^ Daraqatni (385 AH) as quoted in the introduction of Fath al-Bari page 514
  5. ^ [1]


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