Imam Bukhari

Hâfiz Abul-Azhar relates: “Once four hundred Muhaddithîn had gathered in the city of Samarqand to test Imâm Bukhârî. They did this by mixing up the transmissions of Syria with the transmissions of Iraq and the transmissions of Iraq with the transmissions of Syria. Similarly, they inserted the transmissions of the Haram (Makkah) into the ones of Yemen and vice versa. They did this to Imâm Bukhâri for seven days, but could not mislead him in text or transmission a single time. He had comprehensive knowledge in the science of Hadîth – all of the routes of a Hadîth were in his eyes if one with many chains was found. So Imâm Bukhârî had a good view of all of them. In that age, no one had more command over the different ways of transmission than Imâm Bukhârî.”

Yûsuf ibn Mûsâ Marûzî states: “I was sitting in the central mosque of Basra when I heard a voice saying, ‘O seeker of knowledge, Imâm Muhammad ibn Ismâ`îl has arrived. Whoever wants to receive Ahâdîth from him should present himself in his company.'” Marûzî says: “I saw a thin, weak young man near the pillar who was praying salât with extreme humbleness and humility and that was Imâm Bukhârî. As soon as the announcement was made, curious people from all directions began to gather around.”

Glimpses of his private life

1. Self sufficiency:

The father of Imâm Bukhârî, Muhaddith Ismâ`îl ibn Ibrâhîm was enormously rich and Imâm Bukhârî had inherited a huge share of his wealth. He used to give his wealth on the basis of silent partnership (e.g. if a person is in possession of a shop, the profits are shared equally, but only one partner does all the work). Abû Sa`îd Bakr ibn Munîr states: “Once Abû Hafs sent some goods to Imâm Bukhârî and when traders learnt of this, they came and offered five thousand dirhams. He told them, ‘Come in the evening.’ A second group of traders came and offered ten thousand dirhams, but he told them, ‘I have already made an agreement with someone else. Ido not want to change my intention for the sake of ten thousand dirhams.'”

2. Simplicity and humbleness:

From the point of view of his character, Imâm Bukhârî was a simple and hard working person. He would fulfill his own needs by himself. Despite having a lot of wealth and status, he always kept the minimum number of servants required and never indulged himself in this matter. Muhammad ibn Hâtim Warrâq, who was one of his main disciples, says: “Imâm Bukhârî was establishing an inn near the city of Bukhara and was placing the bricks with his own hands. I came forward and said ‘Leave the laying of the bricks for this building to me.’ But he replied, ‘On the day of judgement, this act will be of benefit to me.'”

Warrâq goes on to say: “When we accompanied Imâm Bukhârî on a journey, he would gather us in one room and would stay by himself in a separate room. Once I saw Imâm Bukhârî get up between fifteen and twenty times during the night and every time, he lit the lamp with his own hands. He took some Ahâdîth out, marked them and then placed his head on his pillow and laid on his couch. I said to him, ‘Why did you go through all this trouble during the night, when you could have woken me up [so that I could help you].’ He replied, ‘You are young and are in need of sound sleep and I did not want to disturb your sleep.'”

3. Generosity

Just as he was generous with this wealth, he was also greatly generous with his heart. Sometimes, he would give three thousand dirhams as a donation in one day. Warrâq says that Imâm Bukhârî’s earnings were five hundred dirhams per month and he would spend all of it on his students.

4. Abstention (Zuhd)

Imâm Bukhârî kept himself away from all worldly desires and temptations. Sometimes, in his quest for knowledge, he passed his time eating dried grass (hay). Usually he would eat only two or three almonds in a whole day. Once he became ill and the doctors told him, “Your intestines have become dry because you have been eating dried leaves.” It was at that moment that Imâm Bukhârî told the doctor that he had been eating dried leaves for forty years and during this span of time he never even touched any kind of curry.

5. Fear of Allâh

He was bestowed with the highest rank of piety and righteousness. He feared Allâh very much inwardly and outwardly. He prevented himself from backbiting and suspicion and always respected the rights of others. Bakr ibn Munîr relates that Imâm Bukhârî said, “I am hopeful that when I meet my Lord, He will not take account of me because I never backbited.”

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