Imam Bukhari (194 - 256 A.H)
The Imaam’s name was Muhammad bin Ismail bin Ibrahim bin al-Mughirah bin Bardizbah. Bardizbah is a Persian name, meaning cultivator or farmer. Bardizbah was a Majoosi; Zoroastrian (Fire-worshipper) and died in that state. His son, Al-Mughirah embraced Islam on the hand of Al-Yemaan Al-Bukhaari Al-Ju’fee, known as Abu Abdullah bin Muhammad bin ja’far bin Yemaan Al-Masnadi, who was the Sheikh of Imaam Bukhaari (RA).
The Imaam had a thin-built body and medium size in height, neither tall nor short. He was ascetic and abstinent in regards to the life of this world. He was very pious and god-fearing. He inherited a large amount of wealth from his father, in which he used to give a lot of it away in charity. He consumed very small amounts of food and was very generous in feeding others, especially his students.
The auspicious Imaam was born after Salaatul-Jumuah (Friday Prayer) on the thirteenth (13th) of Shawwaal, 194 A.H. His eyesight was taken away in his early childhood, on which his mother made many dua’s for his eyesight to be restored. One night in a dream she saw and visited the Prophet Ibrahim (A). He told her that Allah has cured your son’s vision. Upon awakening from this dream she came to her son and saw that his vision was restored. He passed away on a Saturday night, the eve before the day of Eid-ul-Fitr in Khartang, the name of a village near Samarqand in the year 256 A.H. He was buried on the day of Eid-ul-Fitr after Salatul-Dhuhr. After his burial there was a beautiful fragrance of Musk coming from the dirt at his gravesite. Many people came from far away to experience this extraordinary event.
There is no one who can equal Imâm Bukhâri when it comes to the knowledge of Hadith. He was fourteen years old when he began travelling in order to seek knowledge. His mother and sister undertook the responsibility of paying for all his studies, travels and other expenses.
A very pious person saw the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) in a dream in which he and a group of his illustrious companions were standing and waiting. The man gave greetings to them and asked, “O’ Prophet why are you standing up and waiting? He replied, “I am waiting for Muhammad bin Ismail to come”. The man who saw this dream says after some days I came to learn of despise the great Imaam, and I reflected back to the dream. His death occurred at the exact time of my dream. Subhanallah.The praises of the Imaam go on and on. Here are some examples. Ja’far bin ‘Ayaan mentioned about the Imaam, “If I was able to give some of my life to the Imaam (Bukhaari) I would have, because my death is just another person’s death, but his death was the death of the world and the decline of knowledge”. Farbaree (RA) says that in a dream he saw the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) walking, and directly behind him was Imaam Bukhaari. When the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) would take a step, the Imaam would step in the exact place where the Prophet had just lifted his auspicious foot from. Muhammad bin Hamduwiyah says, “I heard Imaam Bukhaari saying that he has memorized one hundred thousand authentic and sound Ahadith and two hundred thousand unauthentic Ahadith. The Sheikh of Imaam Bukhaari, Muhammad bin Bashaar said in his regards, “The four great Muhaddith and Huffaaz (pl. of Hafiz, one who is an expert in Hadith and has dedicated to memory a large portion of the Ahadith collections) are: Abu Zur’ah of Ray, Muslim bin Hajjaaj of Naisaboor, Abdullah bin Abdur-Rahman Darmi of Samarqand, and Muhammad bin Ismail of Bukhaara”. Imaam Ahmed bin Hanbal said about him, “Khurasaan has not produced the likeness of Muhammad bin Ismail”.
The father of Imaam Bukhaari, Ismail passed away he was in his childhood. When he was passing away he said, “All of the wealth in have acquired is free from doubt”. It was through this same wealth that Imaam Bukhaari gained his training and skills. In his youth the Imaam started going to religious school and also attending the lessons of Hadith by the esteemed Imaam Dakhilee (RA). The gatherings of the Sheikh were huge and many learned scholars would sit in them. Imaam Bukhaari continued going to these classes and day by day his zeal and enthusiasm built stronger and stronger.
One day when Imaam Dakhilee was giving a lesson of Hadith and was reading the Sanad (chain of narrators) of the Hadith, “ ‘An Sufyaan ‘an Abi(z)Zubair ‘an Ibrahim (from Sufyaan to Abul-Zubair, from Abul-Zubair to Ibrahim). Imaam Bukhaari was sitting far in a corner and said from there, “’An Abi(z)Zubair, is not correct”. Imaam Dakhilee said, “O’ child what is my mistake?” Imaam Bukhaari replied, “Ibrahim did not meet Abuz-Zubair, rather he met Zubair bin ‘Adeey. The sheikh got up and went to his house, looked up the reference in his book and found out that Imaam Bukhaari was indeed correct. He came back and said, “You are correct.” From that day on the sheikh made Imaam Bukhaari sit very close to him in the gathering and he became very reliable and acceptable to him.
The Imaam attended other gatherings also. In one gathering in which there were many scholars writing and recording Ahadith the Imaam went and would just listen. Some people questioned him why he would just sit and listen and that he should write to get some benefit. The Imaam would remain quiet until they kept on persisting and it bothered him. The Imaam replied, “Bring all the Ahadith that you have written down and recorded.” The Imaam started reading out the Ahadith by memorization until he completed all fifteen thousand Ahadith. The people were left astonished.
As the Imaam became more and more popular among the people, they started testing his memorization skills. Two famous events are recorded, one in Samarqand and one in Baghdad. The event in Baghdad is more famous to mention. When the Imaam went there the scholars consulted one another as to how they would test and examine the Imaam extraordinary memory. They decided to select one hundred Ahadith and distributed ten Ahadith to ten scholars. Each would mix up the Hadith and Sanad (Chain of narrators) and present it to the Imaam.
When the Imaam showed up he was warmly greeted but he knew something was cooking. The people said we have some Ahadith we would like to read to you. The Imaam said, “Please do so.” Then each person took their turn reading the ten mixed up Ahadith to the Imaam. After each Hadith was read to him he would reply, “La Adree.” (I don’t know). The people were getting skeptical now and thought this is the man with a great memory? But after all the Ahadith were read to him the Imaam announced to the first reader that you read the Hadith like this and that was wrong. Now the correct Hadith is this, and he read the Hadith correctly. After he finished the first ten Hadith he announced to the second reader that you read the Hadith like this and that was wrong. Now the correct Hadith is this, and he read the Hadith correctly. He corrected all of the readers and thus earned the reliability of the people. The extraordinary thing here is not saying the Ahadith in the correct order, but he also repeated the mixed up Ahadith the right way too. Subhanallah!