Home / SCHOLARS / Uzbekistan: a land multifarious geniuses. IMAM AL-BUKHARI (810-870)

Uzbekistan: a land multifarious geniuses. IMAM AL-BUKHARI (810-870)

The real name of Imam al-Bukhari was Muhammad, his tide was Abu Abdullah, and sometimes he was called “Imam al-muhad-disiyn” meaning the leader of the science in Hadiths1, sometimes he was glorified as “the king of the science in Hadiths”. His family name was Muhammad ibn Ismail ibn Ibrahim ibn al-Mugiyra ibn Bardazbeh ibn Bazazbeh. As is seen from the two last names, the ancestors of Imam al-Bukhari belonged to the Ajams, the non-Arab inhabitants of Bukhara, and the word “Bardazbeh” means in Arabic a man who is engaged in agriculture.

Imam al-Bukhari’s father was Ismail whose title was Abul Hasan. He was an educated muhaddis2 and one of the followers of Imam Malik who was the founder of the Malikiya teachings and one of the well-known representatives of the science in Hadiths. Abul Hasan was also engaged in trade. It is a pity that we do not have at our disposal any written work by him, but we have some information from different sources that he was in close connection with such well-known scientists of their time as Hamid ibn Zaid, Imam Malik and Abu Muaviya and presented some Hadiths from ihr conversations with them. He is also known to have been taught by Abdullah ibn al-Mubarak. He had some followers from Iraq such as Ahmad ibn Hafs, Nasr ibn Husain and some others. In the book tilled as “Al-Tarikh al-Kabir” (Big History) Imam al-Bukhari gave some important information about his father’s biography. A historian «il that time Al-Hafiz ibn-Hibban mentioned in his book “Kitabas-siqqot” (A book about great people) that Ismail ibn Ibrahim, that ih In say Imam al-Bukhari’s father used to present Hadiths from Hamad ibn Zaid and Imam Malik and these Hadiths were taken by the scientists from Iraq to be further developed.

As the sources inform us, Ismail was a real religious, prayer and conscientious man. This fact can be proved by the writings of a historian Ahiyd ibn Hafas where he says: “When I came to visit Abu Abdullah (Imam al-Bukhari’s father) on the eve of his death, he mentioned me that he had lived a pure life and earned his money honestly and before his honesty and greatness I could not breath and my life seemed to be worth of nothing. This book contains some more information about the kindness and greatness of Imam al-Bukhari’s father.

Imam al-Bukhari’s mother was also known as a real Muslim woman, cleanly conscientious and learned woman. She had some rare abilities that could hardly be seen in other people. As we know, Imam al-Bukhari had weak eyes and in his childhood, he went completely blind. Doctors could not help him, and his mother permanently begged God to return her son’ vision. One day when she was sleeping, she saw Prophet Ibrahim (as1) in her dream and this sacred man said: “Hey, long-suffering Mother! Thanks to your permanent grace, God returned your son his ability to see”. When she awoke, she saw that her son was in full vision.

There is also another version of this legend closely connected with this fact. A scientist of his time called Abu Ali Gassani mentions: “Muhammad ibn Ismail went blind in his childhood. His mother was a religious woman and in her dream, she saw Prophet Ibrahim Khalilullah (as). He told her that, thanks to her endless prayers and begs, God returned her son’s ability to see the surrounding world”. And she said: “When I woke up in the morning, I saw that my son was able to see the world again”.

Imam al-Bukhari was born in Bukhara, one of the seven sacred cities of the Muslim world, which was the centre of culture and science. According to the Hijri calendar, Imam al-Bukhari was born on the 13th day of the month Shawal, 194 A.H.1 (July 21, 810 according to the Gregorian calendar) in the marvellous, flourishing and sacred city of Bukhara. It was he, who had polished and gave a wonderful sight to the highly estimated Hadiths of His Eminency Prophet Muhammad (saas2) and made them everlasting precious Hadiths.

Estimating the quality of his knowledge in the science of Hadiths, Abdurrahman Jami, one of the greatest thinkers of his time, pointed out that the quality of the coin made in Bathkha (Mecca) and Yasrib (Medina) reached perfection in Bukhara.

It is known that in most cases the real dates of birth of most lamous people were not written clearly in the written sources. However, Imam al-Bukhari’s father wrote his real date of birth and this source has reached contemporaries.

His father died in the early days of his childhood and he was looked after by his mother who was one of the leading learned women of her time. As he grew up, at first, he got interested in the science of Islam, especially in the Hadiths of His Eminency Prophet Muhammad (saas) and this interest increased considerably as he reached manhood.

At the beginning, he began to learn by heart the works devoted to the Hadiths of Ibn al-Mubarak and Vaki’. Imam Bukhari’s secretary and one of the roviys3 of his book “Sahih” Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Abu Hatam al-Varraq writes: “When I heard him saying that he was aspirated to learn the Hadiths, he was at the primary school. I asked him how old he was at that time and he said that he was about ten years old”. This instance proves that Imam al-Bukhari got greatly interested in learning the Hadiths from (lie very early years of his studies.

If to speak about his teachers and tutors, he was taught in Bukhara by a well-known connoisseur of Hadiths of his time ad-Dahili. He was famous in Bukhara as an organizer of a special school in teaching Hadiths, and his activity in this field was veiy effective.

One day ad-Dahili was as usual delivering his lessons and al-Bukhari was among the students listening to his famous teacher. At that moment analyzing the meaning of a Hadith, he mentioned that it was taken by Sufyan Abu Zubayr from the works of Prophet Ibrahim (as). At that moment al-Bukhari remarked that Abu Zubayr had never borrowed Hadiths from Prophet Ibrahim (as) and thus he wanted to warn his estimated teacher about his mistake. Having heard such a shameful remark from his student, ad-Dahili looked at him with astonishment and turned down his student’s remark. As an answer to his teacher’s rude remark, al-Bukhari answered calmly: “Yours Eminency, if you don’t believe me, you may look in the original source”. Ad-Dahili looked into the source and understood that his student was right, but he did not wish to correct this mistake in written form and whether he wanted to award his student or whether he wanted to check the ability of his student, he told al-Bukhari to correct the mistake himself. When they went out to have a break, ad-Dahili asked his student al-Bukhari: “Hey, guy, how is it going on?” Al-Bukhari answered to his teacher’s question immediately: “Zubayr had cited from ibn Adiy Ibrahim”. After that conversation, ad-Dahili took a pencil, corrected his mistake in the text and said: “You were right”. As al-Bukhari mentioned, at that time he was only eleven years old.

Ubaydulla Uvatov Professor, Doctor of History
Press service of ISRCIB