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Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī (Arabic: صحيح البخاري), is one of the Al-Kutub Al-Sittah (six major hadiths) of sunni Islam. These prophetic traditions, or hadith, were collected by the Persian Muslim scholar Muhammad ibn Ismail al-Bukhari, after being transmitted orally for generations. Sunni Muslims view this as one of the three most trusted collections of hadith along with Sahih Muslim and al-Muwatta. In some circles, it is considered the most authentic book after the Qur'an. The Arabic word sahih translates as authentic or correct.
The actual title of the book commonly referred to as Sahih al-Bukhari, according to Ibn al-Salah, is: al-Jaami’ al-Sahih al-Musnad al-Mukhtasar min Umur Rasool Allah wa sunanihi wa Ayyamihi. A word for word translation is: The Abridged Collection of Authentic Hadith with Connected Chains regarding Matters Pertaining to the Prophet, His practices and His Times. Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani mentioned the same title replacing the word umur, matters, with hadith.
Al-Bukhari traveled widely throughout the Abbasid empire from the age of 16, collecting those traditions he thought trustworthy. It is said that al-Bukhari collected over 300,000 hadith and included only 2,602 traditions in his Sahih. At the time when Bukhari saw [the earlier] works and conveyed them, he found them, in their presentation, combining between what would be considered sahih and hasan and that many of them included da’if hadith. This aroused his interest in compiling hadith whose authenticity was beyond doubt. What further strengthened his resolve was something his teacher, Ishaq ibn Ibrahim al-Hanthalee – better known as Ibn Rahoyah – had said. Muhammad ibn Ismaa’eel al-Bukhari said, “We were with Ishaq ibn Rahoyah who said, ‘If only you would compile a book of only authentic narrations of the Prophet.’ This suggestion remained in my heart so I began compiling the Sahih.” Bukhari also said, “I saw the Prophet in a dream and it was as if I was standing in front of him. In my hand was a fan with which I was protecting him. I asked some dream interpreters, who said to me, ‘You will protect him from lies.’ This is what compelled me to produce the Sahih.”
The book covers almost all aspects of life in providing proper guidance of Islam such as the method of performing prayers and other actions of worship directly from the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Bukhari finished his work around 846, and spent the last twenty-four years of his life visiting other cities and scholars, teaching the hadith he had collected. In every city that he visited, thousands of people would gather in the main mosque to listen to him recite traditions. In reply to Western academic doubts as to the actual date and authorship of the book that bears his name, scholars point out that notable hadith scholars of that time, such as Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (855 CE/241 AH), Ibn Maīn (847 CE/233 AH), and Ibn Madīni (848 CE/234 AH), accepted the authenticity of his book and that the collection's immediate fame makes it unlikely that it could have been revised after the author's death without historical record.
During this period of twenty-four years, Bukhari made minor revisions to his book, notably the chapter headings. Each version is named by its narrator. According to Ibn Hajar Asqalani in his book Nukat, the number of hadiths in all versions is the same. The most famous one today is the version narrated by al-Firabri (d. 932 CE/320 AH), a trusted student of Bukhari. Khatib al-Baghdadi in his book History of Baghdad quoted Firabri as saying: "About seventy thousand people heard Sahih Bukhari with me".
Firabri is not the only transmitter of Sahih Bukhari. There were many others that narrated that book to later generations, such as Ibrahim ibn Ma'qal (d. 907 CE/295 AH), Hammad ibn Shaker (d. 923 CE/311 AH), Mansur Burduzi (d. 931 CE/319 AH) and Husain Mahamili (d. 941 CE/330 AH). There are many books that noted differences between these versions, the best known being Fath al-Bari.
Ibn al-Salah said: "The first to author a Sahih was Bukhari, Abu ‘Abdillah Muhammad ibn Ismaa’eel al-Ju’fee, followed by Aboo al-Husain Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj al-Naisaabooree al-Qushairee, who was his student, sharing many of the same teachers. These two books are the most authentic books after the Quran. As for the statement of al-Shafi’i, who said “I do not know of a book containing knowledge more correct than Malik’s book,” – others mentioned it with a different wording – he said this before the books of Bukhari and Muslim. The book of Bukhari is the more authentic of the two and more useful."
Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani quoted Aboo Ja’far al-‘Uqailee as saying, "After Bukhari had written the Sahih, he read it to Ali ibn al-Madini, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Yahya ibn Ma'in as well as others. They considered it a good effort and testified to its authenticity with the exception of four hadith. Al-‘Uqailee then said that Bukhari was actually correct regarding those four hadith." Ibn Hajar then concluded, "And they are, in fact, authentic."
Ibn al-Salah said in his Muqaddimah: "It has been narrated to us that Bukhari has said, 'I have not included in the book al-Jami’ other than what is authentic and I did not include other authentic hadith for the sake of brevity.'" In addition, al-Dhahabi said, "Bukhari was heard saying, 'I have memorized one hundred thousand authentic hadith and two hundred thousand which are less than authentic.'”
Ibn al-Salah also said: "The number of hadith in his book, the Sahih, is 7,275 hadith, including hadith occurring repeatedly. It has been said that this number excluding repeated hadith is 4,000." This is referring to those hadith which are musnad, those from the Companions originating from the Prophet which are authentic.
Several detailed commentaries on this collection have been written, such as:
Sahih al-Bukhari has been translated into English by the Salafi scholar Muhammad Muhsin Khan in 9 volumes. The text used for this work is Fath Al-Bari, published by the Egyptian Press of Mustafa Al-Babi Al-Halabi in 1959. It is published by Al Saadawi Publications and Dar-us-Salam and is included in the USC-MSA Compendium of Muslim Texts.
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