If the rich
literature of Hadith is assumed a splendid collection of pearls, Al-Jami'us
Sahih of Imam al-Bukhari rahimahullah is rightfully privileged to
be called a gigantic ocean serenely flowing for the providence and safeguard
of those precious pieces of magnificence. A vast, yet shore less ocean
having lavishly quenched the thirst of many, it is unanimously held in
the high esteem of being 'the most authentic book after the book of Allah'
by advocates and adversaries alike.
The Prophet's sallallahu alaihi wa sallam advent was the era of enlightenment for mankind to come regardless of nation, race, caste, creed, sex or any other unnecessary basis of discrimination. The Divine Scripture, the Holy Qur'aan was in a constant and continuing process of revelation as needs arose and situations demanded. The Companions, and leading them the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam himself, with utmost prominence, were showing great fervor and enthusiasm for the preservation of this last of the testaments as the fate of the previous ones was disturbingly evident to the then civilized world. The Companions had acknowledged that along with the divine revelation, there also existed another key source of guidance. It was confirmed that whatever slipped out of the Prophet's sallallahu alaihi wa sallam lips was also a secondary form of revelation, nevertheless, of similar authority as the former as they both came from the same source. They immediately realized that it was imperative for the Ummah to record this front of revelation as it was with the Qur'aan. But certain factors deterred them from its implementation. These included their complete engrossment, obviously on the command and instructions of the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam, in the preservation of the Qur'aan. Furthermore, the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam himself had, at an initial stage, sanctioned them from compiling his words lest they should hinder the integrity of the Qur'aan. They were also very much diverted from this process of the documentation of Ahadith because of the diverse nature of duties binding upon them like Jihad, socializing with the new converts, journeys and expeditions undertaken for the propagation of their faith. And after all, they had to dedicate significant time to their families, businesses and worldly affairs as they even were not exempt from mundane needs and desires.
It seems that Allah had, in the guise of nature, been creating an efficiently
tailored solution for the purpose. Certain elements had been in constant
evolution for a while before the purpose was finally accomplished. These
included the strategic geo-political location of the Arabs, their largely
unoccupied life - a direct result of their solitude and confinement in
their Peninsular enclave where resources of advancement were reduced to
a meager, their patriotic and hence feudal sentiments which all had collectively
resulted in their unparalleled interest in love and admiration of competitive
oratory and war-waging presumably to uphold the prestige of their tribes
and clans. These factors as a whole had also blessed them with a handful
of exceptional qualities amongst which was their extraordinary memory.
Astounding stories supporting the fact have been recorded which give us
a fair glimpse of this almost extraterrestrial and ultra-human capability.
Initially, with the advent of Islam, this feature was most utilized for its preservation. It was also the very first of means for the record of Ahadith as the Qur'aan was unmistakably inked down upon anything available immediately upon revelation. Virtually, no chances were taken. Later on in the Prophet's sallallahu alaihi wa sallam life, when situations became more balanced, the official permit to record the Prophet's sallallahu alaihi wa sallam words was also granted to a select group of his Companions. And as we approach the end of the Prophet's sallallahu alaihi wa sallam life, we find that there already had appeared independent and private compilations of his sayings and deeds. Records show that Sayyiduna Abdullah bin Al-'Amr bin Al-'Aas radiallahu anhu had a personal collection of several hundred narrations called 'Al-Saadiqah' (the truthful). All the narrations we have today on the authority of 'Amr bin Shu'aib from his father from his grandfather come from this collection. Sayyiduna Abu Bakr radiallahu anhu was also known to have a significant amount of collection. Nevertheless, even in this period, relying on individual memories was the contemporary practice.
It is almost impossible to justly determine when and where the first collection came on the public scene in a complete form. From mass migration of Muslims from Medinah to the swift setup of several schools and institutes of learning throughout the increasingly widening borders of the Islamic world, a vast range of factors can be suggested for this uncertainty. In better times, the need to collect Ahadith in a book form was not yet felt. It was not until conflicts sparked up within the hitherto strongly bound and united Muslim body and stray groups and false doctrines began to emerge that this necessity critically arose.
The first official decree to compile Ahadith was issued by the eminent
Sayyiduna Umar bin Abdul Aziz rahimahullah upon assuming office
in 99 AH. Compilations began to appear on the scene and amongst the first
ones were those of al-Zuhri, Abu Bakr bin Muhammad bin 'Amr bin Hazm, Rabi'
etc. The trend followed and the world of Islam flourished with priceless
collections in Hadith literature.
Those initial collections were greatly appreciated. Yet, their contents were generally scattered in nature. Their editions lacked in careful chapter-sequence. Imam Malik rahimahullah, in his Muwatta first changed this course. He largely based his efforts on deriving legal rulings rather than just collecting as many narrations as available. He gathered a great number of sound Ahadith, specially of the people of Hegaz, along with adding the statements of prominent Companions radiallahu anhum and the opinions and verdicts of the pious Tabi'een (lit. successors - Successors of the Companions radiallahu anhum). Imam Malik's rahimahullah compilation was overwhelmingly welcomed as it was the first of that nature which made specific searches easier and contained the very best of narrations - in fact, most of his Ahadith are through the 'Silsilatuz Zahab' (the Golden Chain) referring to Malik's rahimahullah narration from Nafi' rahimahullah from Ibn Umar radiallahu anhu from the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam. This new fashion then prevailed for a considerable amount of time. The editions of Ibn Juraij of Makkah, Al-Awza'ie of Syria, Al-Thawri of Kufa, Hammad bin Salmah of Basrah rahimahumullah are leading examples of this trend.
Again, it was not until towards the end of the second century that the idea of compiling books of Ahadith without specific interest on the inclusion of ‘Aathar’ (statements of jurisprudic opinions of the Companions and the Successors) originated. This form of compilations were named 'Musnad'. A scholar would endeavor to collect as many narrations as he could relying on the authority of a named Companion. He would then name that 'Musnad' after him. This mode of collection gained widespread praise to the extent that almost every eminent scholar of the time is survived today by at least a 'Musnad' or several 'Masaneed' he compiled. The famous 'Masaneed' of Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal, Ishaaq bin Rahwayh and Usman bin Abi Shaybah rahimahumullah are all remnants of this era. Apparently, the standard of acceptibility in these 'Masaneed' was quite flexible.
This flexibility was taken for granted by anti-Islamic elements whose
sole wish was, as it is even today, to collapse the whole mighty infrastructure
of Islam from within in any and every way possible and feasible. Crafted
Ahadith began to develop and prevailed. Enmity against Islam was not the
only cause for these actions, rather the lists of motivations behind it
was quite diverse. Some general factors included prejudice - on the basis
of race, tribe, language, geo-political interests etc., zeal to instigate
the minds of the people through heart-rendering false narrations quite
obviously for personal gains and interests, jurisprudic and theological
differences of opinion in the absence of the true spirit of scholarship,
the plight to seek favor of the ruling classes and most ironically, sincere
pursuit left unattended by even the basics of knowledge to propagate good
and God-consciousness among the general masses.
Then comes the era of Imam al-Bukhari rahimahullah. He sensed a dire need to rid this Holy Literature from all foreign blemishes. He was further motivated by his teacher, Imam Ishaq bin Rahwayh's rahimahullah desire to compile a concise collection containing only the very authentic Ahadith of the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam. Imam Bukhari rahimahullah himself narrates, 'Once we were in the presence of Shaykh Ibn Rahwayh rahimahullah when he expressed his desire saying, 'If only you could assemble the most sound of the Prophet's sallallahu alaihi wa sallam Ahadith.' His words proved enough inspiration for me and I almost immediately embarked on my mission.' Shaykh Ibn Hajar rahimahullah, in his encyclopedic commentary of Imam Bukhari's rahimahullah Sahih, has narrated from the author himself that he once dreamt of his presence in the service of the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam repelling flies and insects away from him with a hand-held fan. Upon seeking interpretation, he was told he would repel falsehood away from the accounts and Ahadith of the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam. Thereafter, he indulged himself completely into the task.
The Imam rahimahullah did not just restrict his efforts to compiling Ahadith, rather he broadened his task also to deriving legal and moral rulings from them. He generally introduces a chapter outlining a ruling and follows it with narrations favoring or contradicting the title of the chapter. This outstanding feature of his compilation makes it superior to that of Imam Muslim rahimahullah, whose only concern is to gather available authentic Ahadith under a specific topic regardless of any jurisprudic or other derivation of ruling. The absence of this aspect - readily appreciated by some as it makes specific search of Ahadith under a topic much more easier - contributes heavily to the supremacy of the compilation of Imam Bukhari rahimahullah over that of Muslim rahimahullah. Another competent to this supremacy is the Muwatta of Imam Malik rahimahullah. It held the honor of being titled 'the most authentic book after the book of Allah' until Imam Bukhari's rahimahullah Sahih emerged on the scene. The main target of Imam Malik rahimahullah was to author a jurisprudic encyclopedia rather than just the compilation of Hadith. Imam Bukhari's rahimahullah being a more broader work, his Sahih's superiority was unarguably confirmed. The great scholar and author on the sciences of Hadith, Ibn Al-Salaah rahimahullah, wrote in his famous introductory prologue to the sciences of Hadith, 'What is narrated from Imam Shafi'ee rahimahullah to the effect that Malik's rahimahullah book is the most authentic human compilation was conditional to the absence of its parallel. Now, after the compilation of the 'Sahih' of Imam Bukhari rahimahullah, it far outnumbers the Muwatta.'
This feature of Imam Bukhari rahimahullah automatically necessitates frequent repetition of narrations under completely diverse titles and topics. For example, he has repeated the Hadith of Bareerah I, the slave-girl freed by Sayyidatuna Aaishah I, twenty four times under various titles. Similarly, the Hadith of Ka'ab bin Malik's radiallahu anhu absence from the Battle of Tabuk is reiterated over ten times. Sayyidatuna Asma's account of the solar eclipse in the time of the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam and his subsequent sermon is mentioned ten times over the book. What appeals to the mind most is the fact that he deduces rulings from a Hadith which are completely alien to each other.
This makes the book diverse and all-embracing. Shaykhul Mashaaikh Shah Waliullah Al-Dehlavi rahimahullah writes in the preface of his commentary on Al-Bukhari, 'The primary authorities of Ahadith based their endeavor on either of four sciences: the science of jurisprudence, for example the Muwatta of Imam Malik rahimahullah and the Jami' of Sufyan rahimahullah; science of the exegesis of the Qur'aan, for example the book of Ibn Juraij rahimahullah; the science of the Prophet's sallallahu alaihi wa sallam biography, like the book of Muhammad bin Ishaq rahimahullah and in the science of moral values, like the book of Ibn Al-Mubarak rahimahullah. Imam Bukhari rahimahullah assembled all these topics in his Al-Jami'us Sahih preserving the highest level of authenticity in the whole collection, precisely accepting only those narrations which were undisputedly narrated by and culminated at, without any gaps in the chain, to the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam himself. Narrations not directly addressed to the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam and similarly the opinions of the Companions and the Successors have only been added at a secondary level.
Keeping these characteristics into consideration, the book is generally
referred to as Al-Jami'us Sahih. But Imam Ibn Hajar rahimahullah
argues that the actual name allocated to it by Imam Bukahri rahimahullah
is much longer. In a very scholarly prologue to his commentary of Bukhari,
Al-Hadyus Saari, he purports it was "Al Jami' Al Sahih Al Musnad min Hadithi
Rasulillahi wa Sunanihi wa Ayyamihi". Imam Nawawi rahimahullah,
in his commentary has assumed it to be slightly longer. His words are "Al
Jami' Al Musnad Al Sahih Al Mukhtasar min Umoori Rasulillahi wa Sunanihi
wa Ayyamihi", a liberal translation of which would mean ‘The concise,
comprehensive, authentic and uninterruptedly chained collection of the
accounts, traditions and expeditions of the Prophet of God’.
general title of the book, Al-Jami' Al-Sahih, very precisely defines its
contents. The implication of the term 'Sahih' (lit. authentic) will be
understood further on. Here we will explore the word 'Al-Jami'. As its
literal translation indicates, it is a combination of various topics. Generally,
any Hadith could be attached to either of eight different fields. A Jami’
technically is a comprehensive selection from all of these categories.
It goes on without saying that there also exist individual collections
restricted to a single field. These categories comprise of:
· Ahadith pertaining to scholastic philosophies. They generally come under the chapters of Faith and Belief. Ibn Abi Khuzaymah’s rahimahullah ‘Kitabul Tawhid’ and Imam Bayhaqi’s rahimahullah ‘Kitaabul Asma’ was Sifaat’ are typical examples.
· Ahadith pertaining to jurisprudic issues. In Bukhari’s rahimahullah ‘Al-Jami’, they range from the ‘Book of Purification’ to the ‘Book of Will’. Libraries, not volumes, have been authored on this subject as it contributes greatly towards the foundational concept of knowledge in Islam.
· Ahadith pertaining to ‘Riqaq’ (self-rectification and willful renunciation of worldly matter). ‘Riqaq’ is technically translated as accounts that inherit mildness of the heart. ‘Kitabul Zuhd’ by Imam Ahmad bin Hambal and Imam Abdullah bin Al-Mubarak rahimahumullah have always been appreciated. Many more scholars have compiled on the topic but, regretfully, mostly adopting a very liberal standard of veracity. That has understandably resulted in the contempt they received from more strict scholars towards most works in the field.
· Ahadith of Ethics. Imam Bukhari rahimahullah has also presented a monumental work on the topic by the name of ‘Al-Adab Al-Mufrad’.
· Ahadith related to the interpretation of the Qur’aan. This is a very interesting chapter in the book. Individual works on the subject include those of Ibn Mardawayh, Al-Dailami, Ibn Jarir rahimahumullah etc. Nevertheless, the most highly merited book is righfully ‘Al-Durr Al-Manthoor’ by Imam Suyooti rahimahullah.
· Ahadith relating historical accounts as well as the Prophet's sallallahu alaihi wa sallam expeditions. This chapter is divided into two significant categories. Topics including the creation of man, the world and the cosmos, the sky and the earth, animals, angels, the jinn, accounts of previous prophets and the perished nations are generally debated in ‘Kitab Bad’ ul Khalq’. Whereas, issues regarding the Prophet's sallallahu alaihi wa sallam life-accounts and those of his family and Companions radallahu anhum are mostly mentioned in ‘Kitab Al-Siyar’. The ‘Siyar’ of Ibn Ishaq, Ibn Hisham, Mullah Umar rahimahumullah etc. are prime examples in this field. Latter scholars have contributed heavily towards the creation of a rich library on the topic making the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam the most spoken of and most commented upon celebrity of human history.
· Ahadith of 'Fitan'. The word literally means strife and tribulations. In this context, the implication is to those preceding doomsday. This again is a very testing subject as most literature in this category is subject to severe criticism.
· Ahadith comprising of the virtues of the Noble Family, Companions radiallahu anhum etc. Detailed works can be found on the topic, mostly works with particular interest in praise of a specific tribe, clan or personality.
The significant presence of all these topics in a book raises its status to ‘Al-Jami’. Imam Bukhari’s rahimahullah work embraces all the topics, though in a very unbalanced fashion, significantly. Another such work from the ‘Six most authentic Books’ is the ‘Sunan’ of Imam Al-Tirmidhi rahimahullah. Whether Imam Muslim’s rahimahullah Sahih deserves the title is a debated issue. Critics have outlawed the possibility insisting that the topic of Tafseer remains untouched throughout the book. A more liberal analysis reveals that, although relatively smaller in number, there do exist some Ahadith of Tafseer towards the end of the book.
Did there exist any similar ‘Jami’ before that of Imam Bukhari? Yes,
there did. The ‘Jami’ of Imam Sufyan Al-Thawri rahimahullah came
on the public scene long before Bukhari’s rahimahullah. A similar
work of Imam Abdul Razzaq bin Hammam rahimahullah also gained wide
acceptance. Also can be included the ‘Musnad’ of Al-Daarami rahimahullah
as it fulfills all conditions.
to our context, next comes the issue of the duration it took the Imam rahimahullah
to compile his work. It is narrated from him, by his most close disciples,
that it was completed over a large period of sixteen years. Although the
precise dates of its beginning and end are authentically unavailable, a
grim idea is nevertheless possible. Though it can never be certified as
an academic achievement, nevertheless, the sources of this speculation
are firmly based. It is reported by almost all commentators that when the
Imam initially completed his book, he presented the manuscript in the service
of Imam Ali bin Al-Madini, Imam Ahmad bin Hambal and Imam Yahya bin Ma’een
- all of which are revered authorities in the field, for review. What was
their response and what measures did the Imam rahimahullah take
to clarify their doubts is not our context. The point we can derive from
this is a certain fact that the Imam rahimahullah should have finished
in or before the year 233 AH, as this is the year when Imam Yahya bin Ma'een
passed away. Imam Ibnul Madini rahimahullah passed away the next
year and the last of them, Imam Ahmad bin Hambal rahimahullah almost
seven years later in 241 AH. Assuming that the Imam rahimahullah
finished his work in or before 243 AH necessitates that he initiated his
task in or before 217 AH if the total period of work is believed to be
sixteen years. In more broader terms, he started his work in the second
decade of the 3rd century AH.
Next to be covered is the issue of the total count of Ahadith produced in the ‘Jami’. Understanding it in detail rests on presumption of certain factors. It should be noted that the Imam continued, after the initial impression of his book, making substantial regular appendages to it until his final years. This betokened the appearance of a very unbalanced figure. This difference in numbers ranged up to three hundred.
A brief idea of this difference can be understood from the fact that,
assuming Al-Firabri’s rahimahullah account, a huge mass of more
than 90,000 students narrate the book directly from him, the timeline of
their individual hearing ranging over a long period and at various locations.
Out of this vast multitudes, only a handful have been successful in their
narrations being transmitted vastly over a long period. The most prominent
of these were the transcripts of:
· Abu Abdullah Muhammad bin Yusuf Al-Firabri rahimahullah, privileged to have enjoyed the company of the Imam rahimahullah most in contrast to his colleagues. He exclusively reserves the honor of hearing the whole book from the Imam twice: initially in his hometown, Firabr, in 248 AH and once again in Bukhara in 252 AH. As his is the transcript mainly in circulation today, we will later detail into his account.
· Ibrahim bin Ma'qal bin Hajjaj Al-Nasafi rahimahullah. He was an active member of the justiceship of Nasaf. He authored some books including a ‘Musnad’ in Hadith (known as ‘Al-Musnad Al-Kabeer’) and an exegesis of the Qur’aan. His profound opinions in jurisprudistic matters has earned him the favor of many masters of the field. His year of demise is a controversial issue. Many have agreed on 294 AH while some sources purport a year later. He is reported to have mislaid some sheets from his record of the ‘Jami’, the narrations of which he would narrate from his memory.
· Hammad bin Shakir Al-Nasawi rahimahullah. A prominent figure in the jurisprudic school of Imam Abu Hanifa rahimahullah. Allamah Al-Kawthari rahimahullah, a strong authority in the Hanafi school, once exclaimed that were it not for Ibrahim bin Ma'qal and Hammad bin Shakir rahimahumullah (who are both followers of the Hanafi school), Al-Firabri rahimahullah would have been the lone narrator of the ‘Jami’ from its author ‘simaa’an’ (the highest level of credibility in the transmission of Hadith where a teacher recites and the disciples record his dictation). Again, the date of his death is disputed. 290 AH being a considerable speculation, the year 313 AH is agreed upon by many scholars.
· Abu Talha Mansur bin Muhammad bin Ali Al-Bazdawi rahimahullah. He was regarded by Imam Ibn Makoola rahimahullah as the last person to die of those who narrate the ‘Jami’ from its author. He passed away in 329 AH.
· Qadhi Husain bin Ismail Al-Mahamili rahimahullah. He is allegedly regarded by some as the last person alive who narrates the ‘Jami’ from its compiler as he passed away a year later than Abu Talha rahimahullah, the previous narrator. But this claim was rebutted as he is not known to have heard the whole of ‘Al-Jami’ from the Imam rahimahullah. Rather, he only narrates a small portion of the book which he had heard in the Imam’s gatherings in Baghdad when he last visited the city. Therefore, his inclusion as an eminent narrator of Imam Bukhari rahimahullah is not justifiable.
Some scholars give the alleged transcript of Imam Abu Ja'far Muhammad
bin Hatim Al-Warraq rahimahullah same credit as the above. This
point is, however, debatable. No reference to it has been made in early
works on Hadith. But, seemingly, Al-Firabri rahimahullah has borrowed
from his book in his copy. If its origins are confirmed, it will be the
sixth most widely acknowledged transcripts of the 'Jami' of the Imam rahimahullah.
Of all these, Al- Firabri's rahimahullah account seems most reliable - not offending the reliability of others - as he reserves the prestige to have received the book twice directly from the lips of its author. Needless to say, thus his transcript attracted enormous attention and to date is the largest in circulation. Hence is the particular stress on his account.
Muhammad bin Yusuf bin Matr bin Salih bin Bishr being his full name, he was generally recognized within his acquaintances by his agnomen, Abu Abdullah. Born in 231 AH in a small town, namely Firabr, located on the outskirts of Bukhara. He was gifted with an insatiable thirst for the quest of knowledge from the very beginning with a wonderful talent to cope up with this zeal. At the tender age of 17, he had already started teaching the 'Jami' on the authority of its compiler. He had acquired whole of the 'Jami' by attending vigorously the gatherings of the Imam rahimahullah in his hometown in 248 AH. His enthusiastic nature urged him to visit the Imam's rahimahullah city personally to further varnish his knowledge. He, therefore, moved to Bukhara and acquired the prerogative of listening to the Imam rahimahullah narrating his collection once again. This took place in the year 252 AH. Huge masses narrated 'Jami' from him as he devoted his life to the cause. He lived a prestigious and illustrious life of 89 years serving knowledge - particularly the knowledge of Hadith - in the footsteps of his mentor and teacher, Imam Abu Abdullah Al-Bukhari rahimahullah. He passed away on the 20th of Shawwal in the year 320 AH.
His narration of the 'Jami' is prominently survived by a unique band
of his follower, which, according to Shaykh Zakariyyah's rahimahullah
account, amount to a near twelve. Among those are:
· Abu Ali Sa'eed bin Usman bin Sa'eed bin Al-Sakan rahimahullah. His narration was further transmitted through Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Asad Al-Sahami rahimahullah.
· Al Hafiz Abu Ishaq Ibrahim bin Ahmad Al-Mustamli rahimahullah. His transcript reaches us through Al-Hafiz Abu Zar Abdullah bin Ahmad Al-Harawi (355-434 AH) and Abdul Rahman bin Abdullah Al-Hamadani rahimahumullah.
· Abu Nasr Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Ahmad Al-Akhsikathi rahimahullah (with reference to his hometown, Akhsikath, situated on the banks of River Shash). He is survived through Ismail bin Ishaq bin Ismail Al-Saffar Al-Zahid rahimahumullah.
· Abu Zaid Muhammad bin Ahmad Al-Marwazi rahimahullah. He was a prominent jurist and Al-Hafiz Abu Na'eem Al-Asbahani, Al-Hafiz Abu Muhammad Abdullah bin Ibrahim Al-Asili and Imam Abul Hasan Ali bin Muhammad Al-Qabisi rahimahumullah.
· Abu Ali Muhammad bin Umar bin Shabbuyah rahimahullah. Sa'eed bin Ahmad bin Muhammad Al-Sairafi Al-Ayyar and Abdul Rahman bin Abdullah Al-Hamdani rahimahumullah narrate from him.
· Abu Ahmad Muhammad bin Muhammad Al-Jurjani rahimahullah. Abu Na'eem and Al-Qabeesi have narrated from him rahimahumallah.
· Abu Muhammad Abdullah bin Ahmad Al-Sarakhsi rahimahullah. Abu Zar (mentioned a while ago) and Abul Hasan Abdur Rahman bin Muhammad bin Muzaffar Al-Dawoodi rahimahumullah.
· Abul Haytham Muhammad bin Makki bin Zura Al-Kushmahani rahimahullah (referring to a town close to Marw - present day Tehran). Abu Zar rahimahullah narrates from him as well as Abu Sahl Muhammad bin Ahmad Al-Hafsi rahimahullah and Karimah bint Ahmad Al-Marwaziyyah rahimahallah.
· Abu Ali Ismail bin Muhammad bin Ahmad bin Hajib Al-Kushahani rahimahullah. Abul Abbas Ja'far bin Muhammad Al-Mustaghfari narrate from him rahimahumallah.
These are the names Hafiz Ibn Hajar rahimahullah claims through
whom the 'Jami' has reached him from Al-Firabri rahimahullah. Al-Nawawi
on the other hand, produces a mostly similar list consisting of eight names,
only two of which are new: Abu Sa'eed Ahmad bin Muhammad and Muhammad bin
Ahmad bin Matta rahimahumallah. Similarly, Shaykh Shah Abdul Ghani
after linking his chain of transmission to all of these, introduces a new
addition named Shaykh Luqman Yahya bin Ammar bin Muqbil bin Shahan Al-Khatlami
rahimahullah. He is believed to be amongst the 'Abdaal' of Samarqand.
Legend has it that he lived for a hundred and forty three years. This addition
raises the total count to twelve.
Having studied the topic at length, we will move on to the count of the Imam's rahimahullah Ahadith. It should be noted here that the 'Jami' does not contain only Marfu' (uninterruptedly linked to the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam himself) narrations. But, it also includes some 'Mauquf' narrations (narrations where the Companions quote without explicit attribution to the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) as well as opinions of scholars which are relatively meager to the main theme.
Shaykh Ibn Al-Salah rahimahullah, a grand authority in the science,
has counted 7275 Ahadith including the repeated ones. Exclusive of repetition,
his count surmounts to a proximate 4000. Imam Nawawi rahimahullah
has approved of his opinion only adding that the initial count of 7275
Ahadith was restricted to only the 'Marfu' repeated narrations, hence exempting
the Mu'allaq narrations (narrations in which the Imam forgoes the beginning
of his Sanad for multiple reasons) along with those mentioned by Imam Bukhari
as chapter-headings, the opinions of the Companions radiallahu anhum, the
'Mutaaba'aat' (narrations brought to provide evidence for the original)
and where the Imam rahimahullah has stated a narration without its
Sanad to indicate of a difference in opinion. Hafiz Ibn Hajar
repelled any such claim and suggested 7397 as the total number excluding
the 'Mu'allaq' and the 'Mutataaba'aat', thereby exceeding the initial claim
by 122 Ahadith. He elsewhere claims the number of 'Ta'liqat' to be 1341
and that of the 'Mutataaba'aat' to be 341, raising the total to 9079. This
number is assumed including the repetitions. The total count of non-repeated
narrations of all categories i.e. 'Marfu', Mu'allaq, Mutaabi' etc. is suggested
to be 2513. This does not, however, include the 'Aathaar' of the Companions
nor of those after them. Allegedly, they are known to be about 1608. This
jumble in numbers is just according to the transcript of Al-Firabri rahimahullah.
Hammad bin Shakir rahimahullah narrates two hundred Ahadith lesser
than him and Ibrahim bin Ma'qal rahimahullah a huge three hundred.
An explanation intended to stabilize the issue was given by Imam Ibn Al-Hajar
Asqalani rahimahullah in which he asserts that most scholars who
lacked in sufficient experience of the science fail to differentiate between
the original narrations and the 'Taqtee'aat' (lit. pieces. They are named
so because they are extracted from a longer narration when the rest seems
unimportant provided that the cut version doesn't lead to any misunderstanding
or misinterpretation of the Hadith. As far as Imam Bukhari rahimahullah
is concerned, he implements freely and is an active advocate of its legality)
and hence, regard them as separate Ahadith whereas, in reality, they are
one. This argumentation, although a great deal feasible, does not apply
in its entirety.
is that makes the 'Jami' extremely important and credible? A good question.
We will now explore the very unique peculiarities of the 'Jami'. Principally,
a Hadith contains of three key aspects: the 'Sanad' (or the chain of transmission),
the 'Matan' (the actual text of the narration) and finally the 'Tarjamatul
Baab' (or the chapter-heading). Normally, the 'Sanad' or the chain of transmission
demands and undergoes critical scrutiny as upon it rests the standard of
veracity of a narration. Imam Al-Bukhari rahimahullah also gives
particular importance to the 'Tarjamah' or title or heading. The 'Matan'
or the text which is the core of study in the science understandably requires
less attention. The scholars of Hadith rahimahumullah have, however,
set a criteria for the acceptability of the text. Some brief conditions
· feebleness and inadequacy of the wordings. A talented scholar who has also spent a great amount of time totally occupying himself in the service of this noble science becomes so naturally acquainted to the eloquence in the wordings of the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam that he attains a stage where he is confidently able to accept or reject a narration by mere hearing its words. Al-Balqeeni rahimahullah explains this through a parable of a servant who has served his master for years becomes so acquainted to the master that he can absolutely make no mistake in determining the pleasure and displeasure of his master, for example.
· sometimes the meaning of a forged narration contradict the basic laws of nature. For example, "Noah's alaihis salaamArk circuited the Ka'bah seven times and offered two rak'aahs of prayer close to the Maqam of Ibrahim alaihis salam."
· it incites condemned desires of the mind, body and soul. For example, incites lowly passion like an alleged Hadith goes, "Ogling a beautiful face sharpens eyesight."
· contrasts an obvious fact in the farthest extremes. For example, "There will not be born after a century anyone who will be of importance to God."
· it goes against the basics of medical remedies. For example, "Aubergine (eggplant) is the cure from all diseases.
· doubts the notion of God's perfection. For example, "Allah created the horse and caused it to run until when he perspired, Allah created himself with his perspiration."
· the mere legitimacy of which cannot be assumed. For example, the alleged 'Hadith Al-Qudsi' (or the Almighty's speech - other than the Qur'aan), "A white cock is my friend and the friend of my friend is Gabriel alaihis salam."
· where the narration goes in straight contrast with the Holy Qur'aan and a comprehensive explanation is impossible. For example, "An illegitimate child will not enter Paradise and nor will his progeny until seven generations." This narration contradicts the code of the Qur'aan: "And no carrier will carry the burden of others."
· contradicts a sound and reliable narration. For example, "When you narrate from unto me a Hadith which advocates the truth (in your understanding), then do so with immunity even though I would not have stated it. This counters the famous tradition, "Whoever narrates from me anything which he believes is false shall prepare for his abode in the Hell-fire."
· it opposes a general law derived from accounts of Hadith. For example, "Whosoever names his child Muhammad, he and his child will both be in Paradise." and "I oblige upon myself not to let anyone with the name Ahmad or Muhammad enter Hell-fire." These fallacious narrations are in variance with the universal law that the final destination of an individual is not determined by his name nor family, rather the criteria is piety and good deeds.
· it clashes with historical accounts. For example, "The Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam imposed the 'Jizyah' tax on the people of Khaibar with the advice of Sa'ad bin Mu'adh radiallahu anhu and the writing of Mu'awiyah bin Sufyan radiallahu anhu." This is a false narration because 'Jizyah' was not ordained by Allah until then; it only happened after the Expedition of Tabuk. Secondly, Sa'ad bin Mu'adh radiallahu anhu never witnessed the Fall of Khaibar since he had passed away long before in the Battle of the Trench. Similarly, Mu'awiyah radiallahu anhu had not yet embraced Islam. He only did long after Khaibar during the Prophet's sallallahu alaihi wa sallam conquest of Makkah.
· a narrator narrates something in favor of his personal views and ideologies. For example, a Shiite narrates a Hadith glorifying the status of Sayyiduna Ali radiallahu anhu
· the narrative comprises of an extraordinary event which, due to its astounding nature, should have been narrated with more importance and still it is only narrated from a person or two. This condition nullifies the credit of the narrative of 'Ghadeer Khum' (a pond near Makkah near which the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam, upon returning from his Pilgrimage, allegedly held the hands of Sayyiduna Ali radiallahu anhu and appointed him as his successor in an overwhelming presence of his Companions) which advocates of the Shiite sect are too fond to preach.
These were just a few of the conditions laid out by the masters of the
field. However, they are not to be taken a certified criteria to test the
authenticity of a text but more as helping factors towards a cause. Nevertheless,
utmost preference will be given to what was mentioned while explaining
the first condition i.e. contentment of a devoted scholar of the science
upon the veracity of a text. Many a time we find a Hadith is rejected by
a scholar by merely purporting phrases like 'There is darkness in this
narration' or 'Its text seems gloomy' or 'The conscience rejects it' or
'The heart is not content on it' etc.
as already said, scrutiny of the validity of texts is not Imam Bukhari's
primary interest in his work. It was briefly mentioned here only to give
a fair idea of the measures adopted by the 'Muhaddithin' (scholars of Hadith)
to prevent foreign interference in the text. Principally, a large portion
of the credit of the uniqueness of 'Al-Jami' Al-Sahih' goes to the dazzling
level of measures adopted by Imam Bukahri rahimahullah in preserving
the credibility of his 'Sanad'. A point worth noticing here is that Imam
Bukhari rahimahullah had never collectively, or even explicitly
for that matter, mentioned his conditions of the acceptability of a 'Sanad'
in written form. Although, later scholars like Al-Hazmi and Al-Muqaddasi
rahimahumallah produced treatises on the subject, these sanctions
were effectively determined through personal analysis, therefore, betokening
small-scaled differences of opinion. Some of those key elements were:
· The 'Sanad' should be a 'Muttasil' one. 'Muttasil' in our context implies to the uninterrupted chain of narration since Imam Bukhari rahimahullah until it reaches a known Companion radiallahu anhu.
· All narrators should have known to be sincere muslims.
· They should not have practiced or be practicing 'Tadlees'. 'Tadlees' (lit. deception) means narrating a Hadith with a chain that raises its status higher than it actually deserves. This practice can be implemented in two key ways. (i) Tadlees in 'Isnad' (ii) Tadlees in 'Shuyookh'. 'Tadlees in Isnad' occurs when one narrates a Hadith from a person who he has, although met, but not heard from. Even if he doesn't mention the teacher's name in explicit terms, any indication that gives an impression of having heard from or visited him will still be branded as 'Tadlees'. 'Tadlees in Shuyookh' takes place when one, while narrating, mentions his teacher with such ambiguity that conceals or helps to conceal his real identity and thereby switches the mind to another narrator of a higher caliber. According to Imam Bukhari's rahimahullah conditions, a narrator ought to be exempt from these blemishes.
· He should not be a 'Mukhtalit'. Literally meaning 'one who puts into confusion', it applies to every deliberate alteration from a narrator that may threat the veracity of the narrative.
· He should be well-distinguished in having maintained a proper conduct and a honorable record.
· He should be possessing of outstanding exactitude and preciseness. If any element of doubt is found in his narrations, this quality of his will be rendered void.
· He should have a sound memory and should also be free from all mental disorders and psychological deficiencies even from forgetfulness due to old age or sickness.
· He should have pristine theological beliefs. If his beliefs clash with those of the 'Ahl As-Sunnah wal Jama'ah', his narrations will be subject to further consideration depending on the severity of his deviation.
· There should be solid evidence of his union with his teacher who he narrates from. Mere possibility of their meeting will not be acceptable enough, as it would be to Imam Muslim rahimahullah.
· Some scholars have also added that every link of the chain of a specific Hadith should have at least two narrators especially going closer to the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam i.e. in the case of the Companions radiallahu anhumand their Successors rahimahumullah. Abu Abdullah Al-Hakim rahimahullah, compiler of the controversial 'Mustadrak' on the 'Sihah' of Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim rahimahumullah, seems to have initialized this thought and was consequently criticized. This thought did find some defendants, but not before undergoing reinterpretation. The critics argued that an in-depth analysis of the book simply proves the notion utterly fallacious as most narrations are, ironically in the initial stages, transmitted only by a single source. The defendants adopted various standpoints. Some explained that what understood was not what was intended. This condition was just a misinterpretation of another which required a narration to befit in the scope of 'Shuhrah' (lit. fame). The evidence forwarded was that some narrations were considered acceptable though they did not completely fulfill the disputed condition. Rather, Imam Bukhari rahimahullah, if convinced, also accepted Ahadith where only one transmitter was available even at an initial stage. This methodology of individual meriting indicated that what was of essence was the condition of 'Shuhrah' and not the number of narrators available. This response, although profound, failed to convince those who vehemently demanded unconditional proof to the claims. A more appealing argument given was that the fame of a narrator, and not the narrated as asserted in the previous explanation, was required. It was suggested that a narrator should certify towards his mass recognition by simply providing names of at least two of his transmitters. Clearly, as similar to the former explanation, the key point was that one was not required to have transmitted a specific Hadith to two narrators as conditioned in Al-Hakim's rahimahullah thought. Only required was enough proof that the narrator was not unknown and hence this argument was relatively more convincing and acceptable. Nevertheless, its comprehensibility was not maintained. Critics persisted that the narration pertaining to Abu Talib's death didn't harmonize even with this second idea. The only transmitter here was his son. Many more solutions were presented but none without discrepancies.
This evidences to the frailty and feebleness of these conditions. Based
purely on personal assessment, they serve more as special characteristics
of the book than firm benchmarks; clearly indicative of their inconsistent
nature and that they should not be merited in excess of what they really
Wide-spread celebrity of 'Al-Jami' Al-Sahih' and alleged claims to have understood its conditions of acceptance collectively gave rise to a wholly new issue. This was the idea of compiling 'Mustadrak' (lit. reparation, emendation). Scholars endeavored to gather narrations compatible, at least as they understood it, with the conditions of the 'Jami', yet left untouched by Imam Bukhari rahimahullah. This process was called 'Istidrak' and what came as a result a 'Mustadrak'.
Again, Abu Abdullah Al-Hakim rahimahullah took the initiative. He succeeded in compiling a collection which he claimed was in complete accordance with the restrictions of Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim rahimahumullah in their 'Sihah'. Nevertheless, his method of research could not escape widespread criticism. He would gladly label a narration as 'according to the restrictions of Al-Bukhari/Muslim/both of them rahimahumullah merely by finding the narrators of a specific Hadith in any chain of either Bukhari or Muslim rahimahumullah. This mode was deemed a grave mistake on his part.
It was greatly seen that a narrator was acceptable to Imam Bukhari rahimahullah
and another to Imam Muslim rahimahullah exclusively, when Al-Hakim
ironically, rendered their narration from one another simply acceptable
on the authority of the Shaykhain rahimahumallah. For instance,
in the case when Simak rahimahullah narrated from Ikrimah rahimahullah
from Ibn Abbas radiallahu anhu, Simak rahimahullah is solely recognized
by Imam Muslim rahimahullah and Ikrimah rahimahullah solely
by Imam Bukhari rahimahullah. Al-Hakim rahimahullah would
mark a narration like this as 'acceptable on the authority of the Shaykhain'
when, in reality, it wasn't. Similarly, it was noticed that the Shaykhain
agreed on the authenticity of two narrators as individuals, but seceded
when they narrated from each other. Imam Al-Hakim
in pursuit of his outspoken leniency, deem their narration from one another
as in accordance with the Shaykhain's rahimahumallah rules. For
instance, Al-Zuhri and Hushaim rahimahumallah are both narrators
of a very high caliber. But, when the latter narrates from Al-Zuhri
he is considered weak. It so happened that when he visited Al-Zuhri rahimahullah,
he inked all the Ahadith of Al-Zuhri
rahimahullah on paper. On his
way back, he faced a fierce storm and his papers became prey to it. Later,
he would narrate from Al-Zuhri
rahimahullah but relying completely
on what he recalled from those sheets. Imam Al-Hakim rahimahullah
has confirmed Hushaim's rahimahullah narration from Al-Zuhri rahimahullah
acceptable because both are individually recognized by the Shaykhain rahimahumallah.
It were these leniencies of Al-Hakim rahimahullah that made him susceptible to punishing criticism. Al-Zahabi rahimahullah later summarized his 'Mustadrak' and remarked that a liberal study of the book without his summary would prove perilous. Also, certain rules were coined for future enthusiasts. A general principle was that a narration could not be given the certificate of being a 'Mustadrak' by mere mention of its transmitters in the original. The authority of the narrator was to be checked in order to judge his attitude with the transmitters prior to him. Al-Hazmi rahimahullah introduced this idea and stated that this mode of scrutiny rested upon recognition of five categorical differences. Any narrator would have (i) a strong memory and long acquaintance to whom he narrates from, (ii) a strong memory but a short acquaintance, (iii) weak memory but longer acquaintance, (iv) a weak memory and a short acquaintance and finally (v) total unfamiliarity and terminal weakness.
For instance, if we focussed on Al-Zuhri rahimahullah, five categories of his students would emerge. The first category, where one of his bright students accompanied him for a long period, would include the likes of Imam Malik, Sufyan bin 'Uyaynah, Laith bin Sa'ad, Al-Awza'ie rahimahumullah etc. Lower to them in status would be those who, although bright and gifted, weren't privileged enough to have enjoyed a lengthy acquaintance. Ja'far bin Burqan rahimahullah and the likes of him can be included in this category. Following them were those the memory of who was not unconditionally reliable, nevertheless, they managed to benefit from him for a long period. Al-Muthanna bin Al-Sabah rahimahullah would be a typical example at this level. Then came narrators who didn't posses exceptional qualities and were even deprived of a long company. They, although after much scrutiny, were considered acceptable to some but never to the Shaykhain (Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim) rahimahumallah. And finally, there were some narrators whose credibility had been contained in the case of their particular teachers.
Based on this categorization, we can also deduce the criteria set for the five most authoritative books of Hadith. Imam Bukhari rahimahullah restricted his narrations only to the first category but also choose a select few from the second category to further substance a narration already chosen from the first category. Imam Muslim rahimahullah generally accepts from the first two categories and sometimes also selects from the third one. Imam Nasai and Imam Abu Dawood rahimahumallah accept the first three categories unconditionally and the fourth one only on the condition that the narrators are 'Mashhoor' (famous). But Nasai's rahimahullah priority over Abu Dawood rahimahullah is established through his special interest in the criticism of narrators which he also often comments upon in his book. And Imam Tirmidhi rahimahullah readily accepts from the first four categories and sometimes also from the fifth one. But he has maintained the credit of his book by clarifying any ambiguities in the authority of his narrators.
This format of assessment can only be applicable in the case of professional narrators whose entire lives pivoted around the service of Hadith. Otherwise, personal confidence on a narrator based on values set by the masters is normally deemed enough evidence.
This was the most prevalent, yet no the only method of 'Istidrak'. Some
scholars widened the gap by collecting narrations of whom they believed
were superior or at least equal to the rank of Imam Bukhari's rahimahullah
narrators but not necessarily mentioned by him. Along with the flexibility
this offered, it was relatively less disputed and hence widely accepted.
Now, having examined briefly the key issues pertaining to the second most important aspect of Hadith literature (and the first one with relevance to our context), the 'Sanad' namely, a brief yet comprehensive explanation of the third most imminent aspect, the 'Tarajim' namely, follows. This aspect, as said earlier, contributes greatly to the peculiarity of Imam Bukhari's rahimahullah book. It is therefore, the main topic of concern, along with the 'Sanad', in our context as it vastly exposes the visionary genius in Imam Bukhari rahimahullah. Similar significance is given to the topic also by scholars and commentators in all ages. They engrossed themselves in solving its mysteries and succeeded according to their abilities, nevertheless, it still remains a healthy topic for rich research and still more work can be done on it. The unanimous and famous decision that the jurisprudic master in Imam Bukhari rahimahullah lies in these chapter-headings underlines the imminence of the topic.
There have been debates amongst scholars as to when did Imam Bukhari rahimahullah actually write his chapter-headings. Some elements suggest he did so during the process of compilation but this argument is not supported by firm evidence. Certain other accounts suggest that his primary concern was just a collection of authentic Ahadith after completing which he framed them under different titles and headings. This suggestion stemmed from some narrations which indicated that the Imam had compiled all his chapter-headings at once between the grave and the pulpit of the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam in Al-Masjid Al-Nabawi. Even after assuming this account, the best possible explanation is of a third party including Imam Ibn Hajar rahimahullah that the Imam rahimahullah had authored his chapters prior to embarking on his mission and not after its accomplishment. After initially setting titles, he set out to document Ahadith that suited his chapters. Rationally, this point seems quite fair as the scholars have, in the instance when there are found headings in the book without even a single Hadith, opined earnestly that the Imam rahimahullah had desired to write a Hadith supporting the chapter-title but could not find any which accorded to his conditions of acceptability. This point can only be valid if Imam Ibn Hajar's rahimahullah view is assumed. However, this opinion is not a final verdict, rather it is susceptible to many objections and doubts.
Given its subtle nature, enthusiasts are likely to commit gross mistakes in the field of 'Tarajim'. There have been furious debates in the past over the implications of Imam Bukhari's rahimahullah 'Tarajim' only due to the fact that they were not well understood by some and as a result came views completely opposite to what the Imam rahimahullah had initially desired to assert. One key point to remember here was that the nature of 'Tarajim' was not always similar. At times, his headings would tackle a legal issue when elsewhere, he was found forwarding a moral judgment. He sometimes proposes a question in his chapter and demands answers from the following Ahadith. On other occasions, he brings what apparently seems an answer and then follows it with a host of questioning narrations. Lack of true determination of the nature of a particular Hadith often leads to disputes which are in reality based on different interpretations of the 'Tarajim'.
What the Imam rahimahullah considers in writing his 'Tarajim'
is another interesting issue. Analytical research into his chapters and
titles have revealed a vast array of points possibly considered by the
Imam rahimahullah. Shaykh Zakariyyah rahimahullah has, in
his scholarly preface to the 'Jami', numbered a daring seventy. He has
not only sufficed on listing them but has also carefully explored their
implications, prominently taken from works of Shah Waliullah and Shaykhul
Hind Maulana Mahmood Al-Hasan Deobandi rahimahumallah. He has also
included some points that originated in his mind. But since the topic consists
of heavy use of technical terminology and related issues, we shall suffice
on producing here a very select number of them.
· He brings a 'Marfu' Hadith which is not according to his condition as a chapter to follow it with a similar Hadith which is according to his criteria.
· He introduces a legal ruling in the chapter and tries to bring evidence for it in the following Ahadith.
· He titles the chapter by a legal opinion of his predecessor(s) by stating 'Chapter regarding those who say that.....'.
· He titles his chapter with a ruling in which the texts are contrary and then brings different Ahadith giving a fair insight into the standard of contradiction.
· Sometimes two texts purport opposite ideas but the Imam rahimahullah believes he can reconcile them under a chapter, thereby clarifying the ambiguities in his heading.
· He sometimes introduces a chapter supporting the view of some scholars or that of a narration that is not recognized by him and then follows by bringing Ahadith contrary to the titled view or Ahadith.
· Sometimes a Hadith brought does not seem to have the foggiest contact with the title under which it is brought. That is an indication that another version of the narration, which is mostly not according to the Imam's rahimahullah condition, does have a connection with that 'Tarjama'.
· Many a time he sets as titles moral values understandable from the Qur'aan and the Sunnah.
· Similarly, many a time he tends to bring a verse of the Qur'aan in favor of Hadith and vice versa.
· He brings ambiguous titles which equally imply to two opposite rulings instigating in the mind of the reader the zeal to discover his personal opinion on the topic.
· Sometimes he brings a chapter indicating that a certain practice or action in necessary for the fulfillment on another immediately following it with another chapter showing that slight alterations from the previous ruling can be tolerated.
· Mostly when he brings a chapter without any particular topic, it is either a continuation from the previous context with slight difference.
· He has not deliberately brought any two totally similar chapters or Ahadith throughout his book. If there are found some exceptions to this, convincing clarifications will be introduced.
· The 'Tarajim' generally have to be of an alleging nature to which the following Ahadith may furnish evidence. But the Imam mostly makes a more lenient approach and most of his 'Tarajim' are in explanatory format.
· He also usually brings the 'Aathar' of the Companions as his headings.
· He sometimes conducts a heading without bringing a single Hadith under it. Sometimes, he substitutes a Hadith with a verse of the Qur'aan or an 'Athar' of a Companion etc. or otherwise, he leaves the chapter unattended for reasons very lavishly speculated by his commentators.
· He mostly brings identical chapters due to a variety of reasons. For example, he wishes to lengthen the second 'Tarjama' more than the initial one. Or he desires to assert the importance of an issue by repeating the similar chapter with or without adding a narration under it .
· He sometimes brings a Hadith under a chapter which seemingly upholds the title of the chapter following it by another narration which doesn't do so in order to portray the scope of implication of each Hadith.
· He even conducts a liberal heading and substantiates it with a relatively restricted Hadith to suggest a more broader implication of the ruling.
· Many a time, the title he chooses is so diverse that it is only fathomable by the collective study of all the Ahadith under it.
· Where baffled by the diversity of a legal issue, Imam Bukhari rahimahullah generally sets his titles in a questioning format to which the answers are given in the following Ahadith.
· He sometimes brings two successive chapters with providing Ahadith for only one of them. This generally indicates that no authentic narration according to his conditions was found for the unexplained one..
· If he has mentioned two separate issues in a single chapter and then brings Hadith in favor of only one issue, the hint is that the other one is either invlalid or undesirable.
· He mostly conducts the 'Tarjama' without the actual wordings of Hadith to indicate of another version of that narration.
· Sometimes he goes to the extent that he narrates a Hadith from a Companion radiallahu anhu having no link whatsoever with the heading-title just to indicate that there does exist a narration from the same Companion radiallahu anhu that can be linked to the present chapter.
· Most of the time, he even conducts his chapters with analogical deductions.
· Some of his 'Tarajim' tend to be more specific of what has already been titled in a more general manner.
· He also brings titles opposing each other to assert the scope of interpretation of either side.
· When the Ahadith under a title are consistent of more than a single command of commitment or abstention, he usually explicitly covers all those commands in his title-headings
Understandably, this was a midget proportion of what has exclusively
been rendered to the service of this faction of Hadith. Many detailed works
have appeared on the topic from the medieval ages to present times. A brief
listing of such works includes:
· 'Al-Mutawaari 'ala Tarajimil Bukhari' - by Imam Nasir Al-Deen Ali bin Muhammad bin Munir Al-Iskandarani rahimahullah. A voluminous work in over 10 volumes.
· 'Tarjaman Al-Tarajim' - by Abu Abdullah Muhammad bin Umar bin Rasheed Al-Fihri rahimahullah (died 721 AH). A credible work but incomplete.
· 'Hall Al-Aghradh Al-Mubhamah fi Al-Jam' bayn Al-Hadith wal Tarjamah' - by Abu Abdullah Muhammad bin Mansoor bin Hamamah Al-Maghrawi rahimahullah. A short compilation of nearly a 100 'Tarajim' of Bukhari rahimahullah.
· 'Ta'liq Al-Sabeeh 'ala Abwab Al-Jami' Al-Sahih' - by Abu Abdullah Muhammad bin Abu Bakr Umar Al-Qurashi Al-Makhzoomi Al-Iskandarani rahimahullah. A considerable work consisting of about 400 'Tarajim'.
· 'Sharh Tarajim Al-Bukhari' - by Imam Al-Hind Shah Waliullah Al-Dehlavi rahimahullah. A short yet concise work on the topic.
· An incomplete treatise by Shaikhul Hind Allamah Mahmoodul Hasan Deobandi rahimahullah. A detailed work covering the beginning portion of the book until a few chapters of 'The Book of Knowledge'.
· 'Al-Abwaab wal Tarajim' - by Shaikhul Hadith Allamah Zakariyyah Al-Kandhalwi rahimahullah. A detailed exposition on the topic.
Scholars and commentators who have worked on the book have listed some
special characteristics and peculiarities realised by them in the course
of their study. This move gave fuel to a new chapter in academic research
on the 'Jami' of Imam Bukhari rahimahullah. A reproduction of it
follows to give a gist of this achievement.
· We find that Imam Bukhari rahimahullah sometimes interjects 'Basmalah' (Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem) between chapters. This indicates that the Imam had paused writing here and is now resuming again.
· It is considered rare of Imam Bukhari rahimahullah to narrate a Hadith with only three links between him and the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam. When he does so, it is deemed a big credit on his behalf. His 'Jami' consists of 22 such narrations. It is worth mentioning here that most of these meriting narrations have reached him through prominent students of Imam Abu Hanifah rahimahullah.
· The claim made by Imam Bukhari that he will not repeat any narration throughout his work apparently seems a bit ridiculous as we find almost two-thirds of the book a repetition of already accounted for narrations. The truth of Imam Bukhari's rahimahullah claim lies in determining what he understands as identical. For example, a narration mentioned including the 'Sanad' and another identical one without the 'Sanad' i.e. 'Mu'allaq' etc, will still be counted as different. A detailed narration which comprises of an exact wording of another narration are still non-identical.
· Imam Bukhari rahimahullah implicitly hints to the time of the initial obligation or legalization of a certain practice or object in the beginning of its relevant topic. For instance, the chapter of 'Tayammum' (dry ablution) begins with the verse by which it was legalized, thereby indicating that this took place after the migration to Madeenah.
· He ends every chapter with wordings best suiting that occasion like he culminates the 'Book of Tafseer' with the final verses of the Qur'aan.
· He also, again implicitly, reminds us of death towards the end of each chapter. His 'Book of Iman', for example, ends with the words, '...Then the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam descended from the pulpit and prayed 'Istighfar' (prayer for forgiveness) referring to Surah Al-Nasr where Allah commands his Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam to recite 'Istighfaar' in abundance as his final moments move closer.
Sufficing on this, as detailing will only entail unnecessary length
of this short paper, we will move on towards the next topic.
if the credibility of a work is to be judged through the attendance of
committed scholars of the field towards it, suffice it to say that 'Al-Jami'
of Imam Bukhari rahimahullah incompetently enjoys the privilege
to be the most commented book, not only on religious level but on a universal
scale, after the Book of Allah. This is not an exaggeration based on devotional
adherence, but a true fact based on the academic rules of analysis. This
point was raised here not to shock , as would appear to many promoters
of critical analysis, but to convince. Today, we find approximately over
a thousand different commentaries, short and large, written in medieval
and recent times by scholars of varying capabilities. Apart from the editions
currently in circulation, references are also found to books we can only
hear about and wonder of that were obliterated by the cruel clutches of
time. Of those available, there are some masterpieces revered and recommended
by scholars of all eras due to their exceptional qualities and almost encyclopedic
nature of contents and debates. Although themes and format differed from
person to person, they all have helped towards the preservation of the
sanctity and integrity of Islamic knowledge, all in their own unique fashion.
Some such monumental works include:
· 'Fath Al-Bari' - by Imam Al-Hafiz Ahmad bin Ali Muhammad bin Muhammad bin Ali bin Mahmoodbin Ahmad Al-Asqalani Al-Misri Al-Shafi'ee rahimahullah generally referred to as 'Ibnul Hajar Al-Asqalani' rahimahullah. He was born in Egypt in 773 AH and passed away in 852 AH. He wrote his commentary between 817-842 AH. He even authored a scholarly prologue to the 'Al-Jami' by the name of 'Al-Hady Al-Sari'.
· 'Umdatul Qari' - by Shaykh Badruddin Mahmood bin Ahmad bin Moosa bin Ahmad bin Husain bin Yusuf Al-Antabi Al-Hanafi Al-'Aini rahimahullah. He lived from 762-855 AH spending most years of his life in Egypt. It took him 27 years to compile his work ranging between 820-847 AH with long hauls.
· 'Irshad Al-Sari' - by Shaykh Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Abu Bakr bin Abdul Malik bin Ahmad bin Muhammad Al-Qastalani Al-Qahiri Al-Shafi'ee rahimahullah. He was born in Egypt in 887 AH and living an illustrious life passed away in 923 AH. He had completed his commentary in 910 AH.
· 'Al-Kawaakib Al-Daraari' - by Shaykh Sahmsuddin Muhammad bin Yusuf bin Ali bin Sa'eed Al-Baghdadi rahimahullah. He lived from 717-786 AH.
· 'Sharh Al-Bukhari' - by Shaykh Abu Zakariyyah Muhyuddin bin Sharf bin Hasan bin Husain Al-Nawawi rahimahullah. He lived from 631-676 AH. Although unique in its own regard, he never managed to complete this work. His commentary covers only the 'Book of Faith'.
Hundreds of other commentaries and explanations were authored on 'Al-Jami' by eminent scholars like Al-Khattabi, Ibn Al-Battal, Hafiz Mughaltai, Ibn Al-Arabi rahimahumullah etc. These commentaries were restricted to Arabic but there also exist voluminous works in the Urdu, Persian and many other languages that merit to have been the academic medium of expression in any age.
Astonishingly, these commentaries and explanations were not the only
medium through which masses offered their utter servitude to the 'Jami'.
Many more such mediums came on the scene as a result of the credit the
book attained in the arena of Islamic knowledge and scholarship. Amongst
these mediums were,
· 'Mustadrak' - a brief description of which has passed.
· 'Mustakhraj' - where a scholar repeats all the Ahadith of a specific book with his own chain of transmission and meeting the original's author in at least his immediate teacher.
· 'Ta'liq' - a reproduction of an already known work omitting the chain on narration.
· 'Mukhtasar' - a summarization of a work omitting the chain of transmitters and any repeated narrations.
· 'Al-Tarajim' - a scholar endeavors to explain the link between the heading and the Ahadith set by the author. A detailed description has passed earlier.
· 'Al-Hawashi' - comprehensive footnotes generally printed alongside the original text for quick reference and easier understanding.
· 'Amaali' - notes taken by the students of a specific lecturer. These notes, gradually, take the form of a book and are often available as contemporary commentaries by the lecturer. This practice has been more appealing in the traditional schools of learning.
Along with those of the Arabic descent, the scholars of the subcontinent have also an active hand in serving 'Al-Jami'. Generally referred to as Bukhari Shareef, it has retained its widespread acclaim throughout centuries. The natives hold it not only as a masterpiece of learning but also as a sacred scripture. It may be due to this respect and honor they express that they have been blessed to present unprecedentedly admirable masterpieces on the topic. The widespread reverence the 'Ta'liq' of Allamah Al-Sindhi rahimahullah has achieved is a prime example. It has been repeatedly printed on the footnote of 'Al-Jami' throughout the Muslim world. Among other prominent works are 'Minhaaj Al-Bari' by Mullah Hasan Al-Fanjani, 'Dhau'ud Darari' by Maulana Ghulam Ali (died 1200 AH), 'Noorul Qari' by Shaykh Nooruddin rahimahumullah etc. Collectively, there were approximately more than fifty lengthy works committed to paper in the twelfth century AH alone in various languages, mostly in Persian. This was done in a period when the region was home to political unrest and the troubling upheaval of rigid anarchists. It was a troubling period as the shaky Muslim Empire in the region was terribly hell-bent towards decline. One can imagine what must have been done before this period when situations were more promising and religious supremacy and authority dominated the state.
Amongst the latter scholars, the much revered but incomplete 'Tarajim'
of Maulana Mahmood Al-Hasan Deobandi rahimahullah deserve primary
mention. Preceded him on the subject were the concise 'Tarajim' by Shah
Waliullah Al-Dehlavi rahimahullah which were seen as an authority
on the chapter. Hadhrat Shaykh Maulana Muhammad Zakariyya's rahimahullah
'Tarajim' successfully overcame the loss felt due to the sudden death of
Shaykh Mahoodul Hasan rahimahullah leaving behind an incredible,
yet incomplete work. Allamah Anwar Shah Kashmiri's rahimahullah
'Faidhul Baari', although very condensed, attracted great attention. It
was, for the major part, a revised edition of the notes taken by his disciples
during lectures. This practice of compiling the 'Amaali' of a specific
Shaykh has become the most contemporary form of service to Imam Bukhari
in the traditional institutes of learning in the subcontinent and their
subsidiaries. Many such compilations have already appeared while others
are in process. The lectures of Shaykhul Hadith Maulana Muhammad Zakariyyah
are the prime example. Compiled from his various works on the Hadith literature,
a voluminous commentary by the title 'Al-Kanz Al-Mutawari' is in the process
of impression. This book is also mainly a revision of the 'Amaali' of Maulana
Rashid Ahmad Gangohi
rahimahullah gathered by Maulana Yahya Al-Kandhlawi
rahimahullah, the father of Shaykhul Hadith Maulana Muhammad Zakariyyah
rahimahullah. There are many other examples to this theme.
And lastly, the fact has to be acknowledged that Imam Bukhari rahimahullah, along with giving the formal apparatus of academic research and analysis its due share, stressed heavily that knowledge, in its entirety and totality, was far beyond just being a systematic calculation of cause and effect - as is the general concept of knowledge in the secular system of learning. He, like most of our pious predecessors, rather held it to be an illumination of wisdom and guidance bestowed by the Almighty unto the hearts of his pious and devout believers which aided them as a yardstick to discriminate between good and evil. They acquired a vision not accessible to many through which they rightly guided the masses into good. He also believed that a major factor towards the accumulation of knowledge in its purest forms was also the respect for it and for all its means and mediums. Accounts show how devotedly he put this idea of his to practice. He himself, on many occasions, acknowledged that he had not documented a single narration until he had purified his body by taking a bath and offered two rak'aahs of sincere gratitude and self-humiliation. Such extraordinary care is not reported to have been taken by any other scholar throughout history. It is to be remembered here that he did not compile his work in one place but frequently journeyed for acquisition as well as the dispersal of knowledge during the period and still retained his practice even in the most remote of situations.
It was only then that his book gained so much acceptance that the Prophet
alaihi wa sallam himself would recommend his book to scholars in their
dreams. Many such dreams have been recorded by scholars where a person
dreamt of the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam asking him, 'Until
when will you remain engrossed in the books of so and so and keep ignoring
my book?' What was meant by his book? 'The book of Muhammad bin Ismail
(Imam Bukhari) rahimahullah' would be the reply. It has sadly appeared
that after the dominion of the west, even in our most personal of matters,
and the change in ideologies it entailed, our concept of knowledge seems
to be one of the most disturbingly suffered. As a result, various new ideologies
arrived, flourished for a while and then gradually losing its appeal finally
vanished from the scene only to be replaced by another one. One common
thing all these 'innovative' ideologies purport, either implicitly or explicitly,
is the fact that Islam was not understood in its entirety prior to them
and only they had achieved this 'vision of Islam destined to bring about
a common change and thus, fulfill its universal promise' and in doing so
displayed a sheer sense of ingratitude towards their predecessors. Sophisticated
efforts prevailed for the modernization of Islam. Those more sincere opted
for the Islamization of modernism. Both these ideas had one thing in common:
they were both inevitably impossible along with a solemn desire to retain
the pure and pristine nature of true Islam. This does not, however, challenge
the compatibility of Islam to all ages and peoples. Islam is a faith of
divinely inspired principles - and not just bizarre rituals - that can
be interpreted and implemented in accordance with the need of time, but
can never be altered or replaced by any human philosophy. Making claim
to bring change with complete indifference to the ideologies of the pious
Salaf rahimahumullah is virtually incomprehensible. Free study may be a
source of increase in knowledge (read: ...increase in information) but
the essence of Islam lies undeniably in the footsteps of those who were
present in better times than we are and who had seen the practicalities
of Islam and not mere theoretical arguments. There is a deep need to realize
this fact and divert our efforts and methodologies accordingly if any sincere
intention to represent true Islam exists in our within. What entails did
we fail? Our extremely and rapidly deteriorating and perilously shaky political,
religious, moral and social leadership better says the tale.
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