Imam al-Bukhari and Muslim

I haven’t really read much on Imam Bukhari’s or Imam Muslim’s life before this. Actually, the only thing I can recall (vaguely) is a lecture from somewhere in the fuzzy past 😦 So this post is straight out of the book 🙂 I don’t mean to violate any copyrights…but I just don’t know where to get other reliable materials on their lives. I’ll try to add more to this later inshaAllah.


Imam Al Bukhari

Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Ismaeel ibn Ibraheem al-Bukhari al-Ju’fi was born in 194 A.H. (810 C.E.) in the city of Bukhaara, part of mordern-day Uzbekistan. His father was a well respected scholar and was one fo the students of Hammaad ibn Zaid and Imam Malik. Unfortunately, he died when his son Muhammad [al-Bukhari] was still quite young.

Al-Bukhari was attracted to the study of hadith at a very young age. By the age of sixteen, he had memorized the works of Wakee and Abdullah ibn Mubarak. he was well known for his ability to memorize. In fact,

Many have stated that he could look at a work just once and have it memorized.

He used this great ability that Allah had granted him in the service of Islam and the hadith of the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in particular.

At the age of sixteen, he left Bukhaara and made the pilgrimage to Makkah. He stayed in Makkah for some time and he wrote his first book there. Before he was eighteen years old, he wrote his Tareekh al-Kabeer, to this day a standard work of biography of narrators of hadith.

Al-Bukhari had numerous teachers; he recorded hadith from 1,080 scholars. Those who learned from al-Bukhari includeed famous subsequent scholars such as al-Tirmidhi, al-Nasaai, Muslim ibn al-Hajjaaj, ibn Khuzaima and numerous others. He is best known for his Sahih but he also compiled a number of other books, including a book on manners and ethics entitled al-Adab al-Mufrad.

Imam Muslim

Muslim ibn al-Hajjaaj was born in the year 204 A.H. or more likely 206 A.H. his city of birth, Naizaboor, was famous for being a city of scholars. It seems that hsi father was himself a scholarly figure.

According to al-Dhahabi, Muslim began his study of hadith in the year 218 A.H, when he was 12 years old!

It is known that he was a man of means and was therefore free to pursue hadith.

Like all scholars of hadith, Muslim journeyed to further his studies. He traveled to many areas, including Iraq, the Hijaz, greater Syria and Egypt. In Khorasasn, he studeied under Qutaiba ibn Saeed, Yahya ibn Yahya al-Naisaboori and others. In Rayy, he studeied with Muhammad ibn Mirah al-Jamaal among others. In Iraq (including Baghdad, Kufa and Basra), he heard hadith from Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Khalf ibn Hishaam al-Bazzaar, Umar ibn Hafs ibn Ghayaath and others. In Greater Syria, he met with Waleed ibn Muslim. Among the otehr scholars he met were Saeed ibn Mansoor, Ismaeel ibn Abu Uwais, Isa ibn Hammaad and Abu Bakr and Uthmaan ibn Abu Shaiba. Among Muslim’s students were Muhammad ibn Mukhlad, al-Tirmidhi, Ahmad ibn Salama, Abu Amr al-Mustamli and many more.

He was respected during his time. Some even considered him the best when it came to differentiating between authentic and weak hadith. It was said that there were four great scholars of hadith during his time: Abu Zara, Abdullah al-Daarimi, Al-Bukhari and Muslim.

He had a very close and good relationship with Imam al-Bukhari. Apparently, he met al-Bukhari in the year 250 A.H. when al-Bukhari came to Naisaboor, although it cannot be denied that he might have met al-Bukhari earlier during his travels. He stayed with al-Bukhari during the latter’s entire stay in Naisaboor.

When al-Dhuhali had a dispute with al-Bukhari on a matter of creed and announced that anyone who wants to listen to al-Bukhari should leave his gathering, Muslim got up in front of the whole crowd and walked out on al-Dhuhali. Later he sent all of his books that he got from al-Dhuhali back to him.

Muslim continued to study and travel in searhc of hadith throughout his life. In fact, his last visit to Baghdad was only two years before he died. Muslim died on the 28th of Rajab in 261 in Naisaboor. Although he compiled a number of works, he is best known for his Sahih.

Sahih al Bukhari and Sahih Muslim

The complete title of al-Bukhari’s book is al-Jaami al-Saheeh al-Musnad al-Mukhtasar min Umoor Rasoolullahi wa Sunanihi wa Ayaamihi. The title itself states a lot about the books. The Al-Jaami implies that all of the subjects of the religion, ranging from belief, acts of worship, business, biography of the Prophet and so on are covered. Al-Saheeh means that no weak reports have been entered into the book as al-Bukhari himself said, “I did not put anything in al-jaami except what is authentic.” Al-Musnad refers to the fact that the authentic reports in the books are traced directly back to the Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Al-Mukhtasar means that it is only an abridged collection and the epitome of sahih hadith.

The second one who made a collection of only sahih hadith was al-Bukhari’s student Muslim ibn al-Hajjaaj al-Qushayri al-Naisaboori. His work is widely known as Sahih Muslim and is usually held in high esteem along with the book of his teacher al-Bukhari.

For his Sahih, Muslim sifted through 200,000 hadith to end up with his  collection which contains approximately 4,000 hadith.

Any hadith that is found in both the collections of al-Bukhari and Muslim carries great weigh. Such hadith are called mutafiqun alaih (“agreed upon”) meaning both al-Bukhari and Muslim have agreed that it is sahih.

In general, this also implies that the whole Muslim Nation accepts the hadith since the scholars of hadith are in agreement concerning the general authenticity of the hadith in Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim. This hadith, “Verily, all actions are driven by intention” is an example of a hadith that is agreed upon by Al-Bukhari and Muslim.

In general, the works Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim are distinguished from other books for the following reasons:

  1. In general, they only contain hadith of the highest level of authenticity.
  2. In general, all of the hadith with connected chainsthat are contained in these two collections are considered authentic.
  3. They are the first wto collections of only authentic hadith.
  4. The Ummah (Muslim Nation) as a whole have accepted these two works as authentic and testify to their correctness.
  5. The scholars who collected these works were recognized as two of the greats scholars in the fields of hadith.
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