Category Archives: Hadith & Sunnah

Imam Al-Bukhari and The Science of Hadith

In Islamic sciences, all knowledge of the religion comes back to two sources: the Quran and the sayings and doings of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ– the hadith. The Quran is of course considered the un-changed word of Allah as revealed to Prophet Muhammad ﷺand is thus the foundation of all Islamic knowledge. Second after the Quran is the example set forth by the Prophet ﷺ.

But considering that he lived 1400 years ago, how can we be sure that the sayings and doings we attribute to him are real and unchanged? To someone unfamiliar with the science of hadith, the collections of hadith may seem unreliable and susceptible to corruption. However, due to the work of Imam Muhammad al-Bukhari in the 9th century, the science of hadith has been protected from such problems using a systematic and thorough method of verification for each and every saying attributed to the Prophet ﷺ. Thus, in the 21st century we can still benefit directly from the authentic sayings of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.

Al-Bukhari’s Early Life

Abu Abdallah Muhammad ibn Ismail al-Bukhari was born in 809 or 810 in the city of Bukhara, in what is now Uzbekistan. He came from a Persian family that converted to Islam 3 generations before his time. Unfortunately for the young al-Bukhari, his father died while he was still an infant, leaving his upbringing to his mother. Despite the difficult circumstances, al-Bukhari dedicated himself to studying Islamic sciences from a young age.

Studying with the scholars in and around his hometown, al-Bukhari immersed himself in hadith studies as well as fiqh, Islamic jurisprudence. From a young age he showed a unique ability to understand complex issues of law, but more importantly, he was capable of remembering long and complex chains of narrations of hadiths. For a hadith to be considered authentic, a reliable chain of narrators is needed to connect that saying to the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. In this, al-Bukhari excelled.

By his late teens, al-Bukhari had completed his studies in Bukhara and set out to Makkah to do Hajj (pilgrimage) with his mother and brother. Since the rise of Islam in the 600s, Makkah has been a unique mixing place for world travelers. Since all Muslims are obligated to complete the Hajj at least once, Makkah is constantly visited by people from all corners of the world. For a hadith scholar like al-Bukhari, this type of environment was invaluable.

He stayed in Makkah and Madinah for several years, where he continued to collect hadiths from some of the leading hadith scholars of the world, memorizing the text of the hadiths (the matn), the chain of narrators (the isnad), and advancing his understanding of the reliability of those narrators (the knowledge of men – ‘ilm al-rijaal). He traveled through Egypt, Syria, and Iraq to continue his studies throughout his adult life, finally settling in Basra, where he would compile his monumental hadith collection.

Sahih al-Bukhari

Although Imam al-Bukhari authored several works on the science of hadith, his most lasting contribution to Islamic sciences was his compilation of over 7000 hadiths, which he called al-Jaami’ al-Sahih al-Musnad al-Mukhtasar min Umur Rasool Allah wa sunanihi wa Ayyamihi, meaning “The Abridged Collection of Authentic Hadith with Connected Chains regarding Matters Pertaining to the Prophet, His practices and His Times”. This collection took him 16 years to complete and since its compilation has been considered the most authentic book of hadith in history, thus the book’s common name: Sahih al-Bukhari meaning “The Authentic Hadiths of al-Bukhari”.

What makes Sahih al-Bukhari so unique was Imam al-Bukhari’s meticulous attention to detail when it came to the compilation of hadiths. He had far stricter rules than other hadith scholars for accepting a hadith as authentic. The chain of narrators for a particular hadith had to be verified as authentic and reliable before Imam al-Bukhari would include that hadith in his compilation. For example, the first hadith in the book begins:

“We have heard from al-Humaydi Abdallah ibn al-Zubayr who said that he heard from Sufyan, who said he heard from Yahya ibn Sa’eed al-Ansari who said he was informed by Muhammad ibn Ibrahim al-Taymi that he heard ‘Alqama ibn Waqqas al-Laythi say that he heard ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab say on the sermon pulpit that he heard the Prophet Muhammad ﷺsay: ‘Actions are only by intentions…’”

This chain of six narrators was meticulously inspected by Imam al-Bukhari. In order for him to consider the hadith authentic, he had to study the lives of all the people in the chain in depth. He studied where and when the narrators lived, in order to make sure that if someone narrates from someone else, they must both have been in the same place at the same time and have actually met and discussed hadith. Other hadith scholars did not all require evidence that two consecutive narrators met personally, but Imam al-Bukhari’s strict requirements is what makes his compilation unique.

Imam al-Bukhari also studied the lives of narrators, to make sure they were trustworthy and would not fabricate, or change the wording of a hadith. If he discovered that someone in a chain openly sinned or was not considered trustworthy, that hadith was immediately discarded and not included in his book unless a stronger chain for it existed.

Using his strict guidelines for hadith acceptance, Imam al-Bukhari was the first to make a systematic approach to classifying hadith. Each hadith he analyzed was labelled as either sahih (authentic), hasan (good), mutawatir (recurrent in many chains), ahad (solitary), da’eef (weak), or mawdu’ (fabricated). This system for hadith then became the standard by which all hadiths were classified by other hadith scholars.


Imam al-Bukhari’s Fiqh

Imam al-Bukhari’s collection of hadiths is a monumental achievement and an irreplaceable cornerstone of the science of hadith scholarship. Through his work, hadith studies became a science with governing laws that protected the field from innovations and corruptions. However, his Sahih is not just a simple collection of hadiths. Al-Bukhari organized his collection in a way that it can also be used to help deduce rulings within Islamic law – fiqh.

The Sahih is divided into 97 books, each with numerous chapters within it. Each chapter is then titled with a ruling on a particular issue within fiqh. Then within the chapter will be all the hadiths that he considered authentic that support that ruling. For example, the chapter about extra prayer during the month of Ramadan (Taraweeh) is titled “The Superiority of Extra Prayers at Night in Ramadan” and it contains six sayings of the Prophet ﷺthat indicate how important the Taraweeh prayer is.

Thus, not only is Sahih al-Bukhari the most authentic book of hadith ever compiled, but Imam al-Bukhari also had the foresight to organize it into a book of law that helps everyday Muslims live their lives as close to the life of the Prophet ﷺas possible. His monumental work would go to inspire generations of hadith scholars, including al-Bukhari’s student Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj, who would go on to collect Sahih Muslim, which is considered second only to Sahih al-Bukhari in authenticity.

One of the common accusations made by non-Muslims against Islamic sciences and the study of hadith is that there is no way of verifying the hadith and that they should not be used as a source of belief or law. This argument is based on a very rudimentary and flawed understanding of how the hadith were collected and the incredible amount of effort scholars such as al-Bukhari put into verifying their authenticity. With the monumental work of al-Bukhari and other scholars of hadith, we have been able to know what words and actions can truly be attributed to the Prophet Muhammad ﷺeven 1400 years after his life.

Source : LostIslamicHistory





Giving the Salam

Abu Hurairah(ra) related that Rasulullah (saw) said, “You shall not enter Heaven unless you have Faith and your Faith is not complete until you show love towards one another. Would you want me to show you how you can achieve this? Shower your Salam upon one another.”

General meaning — When we give our salam to another Muslim and he answers it, we are actually praying for each other’s peace in life. Thus our relationship will become closer. This is one of the signs of people who have Faith.

Giving Salam To Our Family

Anas (ra) related that Rasulullah (saw) said, “O my son, when you enter the house of your family, give the salam so that you and your family may receive Allah’s blessing.”

General meaning — We often visit our relatives, friends and neighbors. Before we enter their houses or our own, we should say the salam. If we are visiting another person’s house, we should leave if our salam is not answered after the third time. That is the etiquette of visiting. The purpose of saying the salam is so that we and our family may receive Allah’s blessing.


Say ‘Bismillah’ Before We Eat

Umar bin Abi Salamah (ra) related that Rasulullah (saw) said, “Say ‘Bismillah’, eat with your right hand and eat what is near you.” 

General Meaning — No matter where we are, we should say ‘Bismillah’ when facing a meal. Always use our right hand and never with our left hand. Also , eat those food which are near to us and do not stretch our arms to take those food which are further away as this will only show a greedy attitude.


Never Speak ill of a Meal

Abu Hurairah(ra) said.“Rasulullah (saw) never once spoke ill of a meal. If he liked it, he ate it and if he did not like it, he left it untouched.” 

General meaning — To speak ill of the food served by someone is bad. Such an act tells of someone ungrateful. Imagine the amount of hard work that goes into preparing and serving the food. It hurts a mother to hear her effort being slighted. Thus if you like it, eat it but if you don’t, just leave it with gentle words and never with an angry tone.


To Gain Knowledge is a Duty

Rasulullah(saw) said, “To gain knowledge is a duty of every Muslim, male or female.”

General Meaning— Knowledge is like a bright, guiding light in life. A person without knowledge will be in darkness. On the other hand, a knowledgeable person finds it easier to do a certain task which will allow him to earn his income. The aim to gain knowledge is to make it easier for us to serve Allah, for example, by giving charity from the income that we received. Furthermore, Allah will elevate the status of a knowledgeable person.


The Virtue of Reading the Quran

Umamah (ra) related that Rasulullah (saw) said, “Read the Quran, for it will come in the Day of Qiyamah as a torch to those that had read and followed its teachings.”

General Meaning— Studying and following the teaching of the Quran will bring a lot of goodness. Just by reading it is an ibadah. Every letter that is being read has a reward and each of this reward is multiplied by ten times. Such is the reward given to someone who reads the Quran.


The Du’a Most Often Recited by Rasulullah (saw)

Rasulullah(saw) most often recited the following du’a, “Oh Allah, our Lord, grant upon us the happiness in this world and happiness in the hereafter and protect us from the torture of the hellfire.” 

General meaning— As good Muslims, we should follow the habits of Rasulullah (saw). Thus, we are to recite the du’a most often recited by him. The du’a is short, simple and complete. Try to recite it after every prayer.


It Is Sinful To Disobey Our Parents

Mughirah bin Shu’bah (ra) related that Rasulullah (saw) said, “verily, Allah forbids you from disobeying your parents.” 

General Meaning— Allah commands every Muslim to care for his parents properly, with kindness and courtesy. We are to heed their advice. Never show our stubbornness and disobey them with harsh words. As their child, we should repay their kindness in providing for and bringing us up. To disobey our parents is a disgraceful act and a serious sin.


Heaven Lies Under the Feet of Our Mother

Anas (ra) related that Rasulullah (saw) said, “Verily, Heaven lies under the feet of our mother.”

General Meaning— Whoever intends to enter Heaven should respect and dignify his parents, especially his mother. Our mother has carried and given birth to us. Furthermore, her du’a will be granted by Allah. Thus, we must serve her well.


To Receive and Give Gifts

Aishah (ra) related, “Rasuluallah (saw) received and gave gifts.”

General Meaning— To give and receive gifts is a virtue. This practice can make our relationship much closer. Always exchange a gift with a gift. However, we should remember that the value of a gift is not in its price but in the sincerity that goes with it.

Every Mumin Should Support One Another

Rasulullah (saws) said, “One mumin to another mumin is like a building that supports one another.” 

General Meaning— Every mumin, regardless of his race or language, must cooperate with one another in doing good deeds. Whenever we know that our friend is weak in a certain matter, we should help and support him so that we can progress together. This is similar to a building where every wall, pillar, floor and roof supports one another so that the building can stand erect.