An Introduction For New Muslims and Western-educated Muslims
by Kaukab Siddique, Ph.D
Shawwal 13, 1421/January 8, 2001, is the anniversary of Imam
Bukhari's birth in 194 Hijri. His name is Muhammad and he was known as
Abdullah. "Bukhari" refers to his place of birth, the city of Bukhara,
located in Tajikistan, 38 miles west of Samarkand.
I'll begin with two authentic Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad
collected by Imam Bukhari. These teachings are very important in the
culture around the world:
Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him)
The messenger of Allah was asked: Who is
deserving of loving care and concern? He (the Prophet)
YOUR MOTHER. And then whom (he was asked). He said:
Your MOTHER. And then? (he was asked)
Mother (he said). And then? (the questioner
Your father. (al-adab al-mufrad by Imam
(Abi Bakra, Allah be pleased with him,
about Prophet Muhammad):
Your blood, your goods and
honor are as much protected and safe (forever) as in this
day (of Arafa) in this month (of Hajj). Be aware and those of
are here (today) should pass this on to those who
(Sahih of Imam Bukhari)
The revolutionary impact of these teachings can be understood if
realizes that Arabia (and the world) was a male dominated society in
there was no concept of basic human rights. The first Hadith puts a
(the mother) as three times more important than the dominant male. The
hadith gives the protection of Islamic law to life, property and honor
(especially the rights of women) and makes these rights as sacred as
holiest days of the Islamic pilgrimage.
Who was the man who made sure that these were authentic
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and hence teachings which must be integral to
Abu Abdullah Muhammad, son of Ismail, al-Bukhari was sharp of
intellect with a memory which has had few equals. HE MEMORIZED THE
QUR'AN at the AGE OF 9. At the age of 10, he turned his attention to
study of Hadith. At the age of 16, following the performance of Hajj,
decided to stay in Makka and make the holy city the center of his
A remarkable fact about Imam Bukhari's early life is that his
teacher was his mother, a woman of great learning and Islamic
father Ismail was also an Islamic teacher of piety and learning but he
died when the Imam was little.
As he forayed into his study, research and collection of
Imam Bukhari studied in the schools of Hadith led by the greatest
his era Later, he himself became the teacher of the greatest scholars
era. His final book of Hadith, known as al-jami us-Sahih, has been
recognized around the world as a source book of Islam SECOND ONLY TO THE QU'RAN.
At that time Islam was a world power and the great and the
wanted to use the Qur'an and the Hadith to support their own version
Islam. The last of the SAHABA (companions of the Prophet) died in the
110 after Hijrah. Hence the possibility of people misquoting the
became very real.
Imam Bukhari understood that sponsorship by vested interests is
detrimental to objective Islamic teachings. HENCE THE IMAM STAYED
AWAY FROM THE POWER STRUCTURE. He was never a servant or courtier of
ruler, local, regional or national.
Secondly, IMAM BUKHARI AVOIDED USING HIS KNOWLEDGE TO ENRICH
Like Allama Iqbal in our own times, he seemed to have lived in the
light of a
(not so well authenticated) hadith of the Prophet that:
"Poverty is my
pride." This is a self-imposed poverty for the sake of independence and
openness to all ways of thinking beyond the "party line."
He would earn his living by trade and as a merchant and then
away his profits, thus returning to his meagre means. On some of his
journeys, he almost died of starvation rather than beg the local
In his research on Hadith, he set standards which are stricter
known even in our own times of immediate technologically available
information. Some of these need to be mentioned here:
1. Did a person who narrated Hadith from a Companion of the
actually meet the Companion, and was that Companion with the Prophet in
2. What was the character of a narrator of Hadith?
3. What was his/her memory like? What was his/her age at the
4. Was the chain of narrators complete, had a missing link in it
was it fabricated?
5. Which Hadith are linked to which verses of the Qur'an?
6. Sometimes partisans can speak the truth. How does
accept Hadith from narrators who were Shi'ite, Khariji or pro-Caliph?
7. Honest collection of Hadith if objective rules apply but the
content is not appealing. (Thus the Hadith literature is an uncensored
account of how the SAHABA saw, heard and thought of the Prophet and his
It leaves critical commentary to scholars and
mujtahideen who use their reason to understand the Qur'an and the
FALSE IDEAS ABOUT IMAM BUKHARI:
The Zionist Jews who want to destroy Islam have been spreading
about Hadith. Goldziher and Schacht's work against Hadith has been fed
missionary publications. From here some sincere but mislead Muslim
picked up the attack on Hadith. One important misled but sincere person
Ghulam Ahmed Pervez who wrote extensively against Hadith. Dr. Fazlur
sincerely believed that the ISNAD or chains of narration of Hadith had
invented in the third century of Islam. His work gained popularity
western-educated Muslims till Dr. Azmi published his research which
not only authenticity of ISNAD but also that Hadith was written down in
era of early Islam, starting with the time of the Prophet and the
Some misled sectarians believe that Bukhari's Hadith narration
meant to help the Ummayed rulers who had, according to the sectarian
"usurped the right of hazrat Ali" to be the Caliph. This idea is
absurd because Imam Bukhari was not alive during the entire Ummayad
The Ummayeds ruled Rajab 60 hijri to zulhijjah 132 hijri and 4 years
turmoil after that. Imam Bukhari was born in 194. So he could not have
influenced by the political power of the "ruling Ummayads."
There are others who see traces of Shi'ism in Imam Bukhari's
collection. These again are off the mark. The Abbasids established
regime in 136. When the greatest Abbasi, Haroon ar-Rasheed, began his
Imam Bukhari's birth was still one year away. When the powerful Mamun
ar-Rasheed was ruling, Imam Bukhari had just started his studies and
moved to Makka, which was outside the Baghdad orbit of Abbasid
Some misled people believe that most Hadith must have been false
hence Imam Bukhari selected so few out of "six million." This idea is
on total lack of understanding of Hadith. In Hadith studies, not only
(the text) of what the Prophet said but also each chain of narration
of that hadith counts as one hadith. Thus the first text in Bukhari's
"Actions shall be judged by intentions ..." had 700 chains of narration;
hence in Hadith literature that one text would count as 700 hadith.
Some people justify their own ignorance. They think that
a narrator of Hadith which he was not. He was a researcher, compiler
Still others attack Bukhari to INDIRECTLY ABUSE, INSULT and
DISCREDIT the sahaba (again a sectarian hand is often at work here).
Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) narrated so many hadith? Didn't
live in Ameer Muawiyyah's palace? etc. The life of the Prophet (pbuh)
than what Imam Bukhari compiled) shows that Abu Huraira used to spent
maximum of his time listening to and collecting the teachings of the
memorizing and writing down, while others lived more "normal" lives.
Hazrat 'Ayesha, Abu Huraira and other mukassirin (those who have
narrated many hadith of the Prophet), lived for many more years than
the key figures among the Prophet's companions. They were asked
newcomers who were flooding into Islam and hence taught much more.
greats like Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, Ali (Allah be pleased with them)
available to so many people after the Prophet died. The last three were
assassinated. Hence owing to historical reasons, some narrators
Some readers among our westernized elites object to the
and pre-"modern" lifestyle which often appears in the Hadith literature
including that of Bukhari. The Prophet had to go out into the desert to
urinate, etc. The Prophet bathed out of a bucket along with his wife
(shocking! eh). The Prophet talked about women's menses and women among
companions talked about Muslim's duties related to sex and "private"
expeditions when food ran out, the Muslims had to decide whether to eat
lizards. The Prophet had fine tastes but did not want his companions to
starve. What happens if a fly falls into a bucket full of food or solid
shortening? Worse, what if a rat falls in? Should the entire food
thrown away? (in a culture of scarcity).
Also many readers find Hadith irksome simply because they don't
study patiently. They rush to the assumption that the headlines
Imam Bukhari are also Hadith. Or they take it that the words of a
the words of the Prophet are supposedly of equal value because they are
Where Imam Bukhari provides a narration which shows the low
which women were held at that time and then a narration from the
'Ayesha which shows the Prophet changing those attitudes with his
authoritative words, our misled friends do not see the connection and
consider it a "contradiction." Same applies to war time lack of rules
those days (taking slaves, taking part-time mistresses, muta',
marriage, etc.). The misled people see the narration about what used to
happen and DO NOT SEE what the Prophet did to stop them and how he went
it stage by stage.
Scholarship of HADITH of course preceded Imam Bukhari and he was
a galaxy of greats, even though the greatest. I am presenting Imam
because Shawwal 13 is coming up and because the misled people think
destroy the entire corpus of Hadith by attacking Imam Bukhari.
(Note: The Jews think they have done enough against Hadith, leaving the
Munkareene Hadith to do the rest. They have started concentrated
the Qur'an. The Hindus have joined them.)
I offer this article to the Ummah with all humility. If you like
please distribute it. If you find errors, do let me know.
And Allah is the only One Who knows all.
our web site: www.NewTrendMag.org
2001-01-04 Thu 06:09ct