He is Abu `Abdullah Muhammad ibn Abu al-Hasan Isma`il ibn Ibrahim ibn al-Mughirah al-Ga`fi al-Muhkari, known as al-Bukhari , the ever well-known scholar of hadith. His collection of Hadith “Sahih al-Bukhari” is considered the most authentic book in Islam next to the Glorious Qur’an. This article sheds light on some of the aspects of Imam Muhammad ibn Isma`il al-Bukhari's life, works, shaykhs and students.
His Birth and Early Life
Abu `Abdullah al-Bukhari was born on Friday 13 Shawwal, 194 A.H. in the city of Bukhara in Khorasan  (Uzbekistan) in a family renowned for their uprightness and righteousness. His father Isma`il was a practicing scholar and noble man, but he did not live for long and passed away while his children were still young.  His son Muhammad showed significant love for seeking Islamic knowledge. Therefore, his mother sent him to the circles of Qur’an and Hadith to learn in them. 
Imam al-Bukhari showed peerless learning capabilities and excelled past his classmates. He was once asked, “When did you start seeking knowledge of Hadith?” He said, “I was bestowed the talent of memorizing Hadith while I was in the kuttab (small school)." He was asked, “How old were you at that time?” He answered, “10 years or less.”  He was exceptionally talented in memorization so much so that he had memorized thousands of ahadith at a very early age. Once, his classmates censured him for not writing down ahadith like them, he responded by telling them that he had committed all the ahadith they wrote to memory. They tested his memory which proved perfect. One of the stories circulated about his unique talent is that of Salim ibn Mujahid who said,
“I was with Muhammad ibn Salam al-Baikandari who said to me, “If you came a little while ago, you would have seen a young boy memorizing 70000 ahadith.” Salim said, ‘I went out searching for this boy until I met him.” Salim said, “I told him, ‘You allege that you memorize 70000 ahadith?’ The young al-Bukhari replied in the affirmative and said, “I will not mention a hadith from the Sahabah or their followers except that I have knowledge concerning their birth, death and residence. 
Al-Bukhari was a nonpareil seeker of knowledge.
His Pursuit of Knowledge
Al Bukhari started seeking knowledge in the Kuttab. He memorized the whole Qur’an at the age of 10 years then he started seeking knowledge of Hadith. When he reached the age of 16, he had memorized all ahadith narrated by Ibn al-Mubarak and Waki`.  He traveled seeking ahadith to Balkh and Nisapur. Then, he went to Makkah and remained their for a while, then he traveled to Baghdad, the Levant and Egypt. He attained a great share of knowledge and narrated many ahadith. It is reported that the number of his shuyookh (teachers) were more than a thousand. 
Al-Bukhari started teaching Hadith when he was 17 years old.  He used to say,
I memorized one hundred thousand authentic ahadith, and I memorized two hundred thousand inauthentic ahadith. 
Among the shaykhs of al-Bukhari were: Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Hammad ibn Shakir, Makki ibn Ibrahim and Abu `Asim an-Nabil. Among those who narrated from al-Bukhari were: Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj, at-Tirmidhi, an-Nasa’i, Muhammad ibn Nasr al-Marwazi; and many others. 
Imam al-Bukhari compiled numerous books but the most popular of them is “Al-Jami` Al-Musnad As-Sahih Al-Mukhtasar min Umuri Rasullillah wa Sunanih wa Ayyamih.” It is translated as “The Abridged Collection of Authentic Hadith with Connected Chains regarding Matters Pertaining to the Prophet, His practices and His Times.” It became known as Sahih al-Bukhari.
Imam Muhammad ibn Isma`il compiled other books including, Al-Adab al-Mufrad, At-Tarikh al-Kabir, Khalq Af`al al-`Ibad, Raf` al-Yadain fi As-Salah, and Al-Kuna.
Imam al-Bukhari was a pious, practicing and devout scholar. He was known for his exact observance of the Sunnah without any slackness or indolence. There is nothing more evident of his sincerity than the spread of his 'Sahih al-Bukhari' that is considered as the most authentic book next to the book of Allah, the Qur’an. Imam al-Bukhari was a shining star in the vast space of piety and fear of Allah. He used to say, “I hope that I meet Allah and that He does not call me into account for backbiting anyone.”  It's important to note that his dedication to seeking Hadith did not impede him from observing Jihad. It is reported that he would frequent places of archery in preparation for Jihad and he was also reported frequenting the borders of cities in order to defend the Muslim state.
Scholarly Praise of al-Bukhari
Raja’ Al-Hafiz said,
He (al-Bukhari) is one of Allah’s signs walking on the Earth. 
Al-Husain as-Samarqandi said,
Muhammad ibn Isma`il is singled out with three characteristics in addition to his praised ones. He was a reserved man, unambitious about what people have and completely bent on seeking knowledge. 
An-Najm ibn Al-Fudayl said,
I saw in a dream the Prophet was walking and Muhammad ibn Isma`il was walking behind him, wherever the Prophet placed his foot Muhammad Ibn Isma`il would place his foot. 
Yahya ibn Ja`far said,
If I was able to give to Muhammad ibn Isma`il from my lifetime, I would do that because my demise equals the death of one man while the demise of al-Bukhari means the demise of knowledge. 
Na`im ibn Hammad said,
Muhammad ibn Isma`il is the Faqih of this Ummah. 
Ibn Khuzaymah said,
I have never seen underneath the sky one who is more knowledgeable of the hadith of the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) than Muhammad ibn Isma`il. 
Al-Hafiz Abu `Amr al-Khaffaf said,
Muhammad ibn Isma`il is more knowledgeable of hadith than Ishaq ibn Rahawayh, Ahmad ibn Hanbal and other scholars with 20 degrees. Whoever speaks badly about him, I curse him with a thousand curses. Muhammad is the most pious and purest scholar and I have not seen anyone like him. 
Abdullah ibn Hammad said,
I hoped that I was a hair on the chest of Muhammad ibn Isma`il. 
I know of nothing that people may need except that it is found in the Qur’an and Sunnah. 
I hope that I meet Allah and that He does not call me into account for backbiting anyone.
I did not start teaching hadith until I became fully aware of the authentic and the inauthentic narrations; reviewed all the books of difference of opinion and visited Basra 5 times or about that, and left no authentic hadith but that I wrote it except what I deemed it not authentic. 
I never willed to start any speech that included the worldly life but I will start with praising and commending Allah. 
His Trial and Death
When Imam al-Bukhari reached Nisapur he was majestically welcomed. The scholar of Nisapur at that time was a man called Muhammad ibn Yahya adh-Dhuhli. Shortly after al-Bukhari’s arrival, ِadh-Dhuhli’s hadith circle became empty. Therefore, he developed feelings of jealousy and anger towards al-Bukhari and thus started spreading false rumors about him. He disseminated that Imam al-Bukhari believed that the Qur’an is created. Although al-Bukhari never said so and was completely innocent of this, Muhammad ibn Yahya continued his allegations and fought against al-Bukhari until he was compelled to leave the city and return to his homeland in Bukhara.
Then, al-Bukhari was subject to another ordeal by the ruler of Bukhara who asked al-Bukhari to visit him and narrate Sahih al-Bukhari to his children. Imam al-Bukhari knew the value of knowledge and always kept distant from the rulers, he refused saying, "Knowledge is to be sought," meaning that if anyone wanted to learn Sahih al-Bukhari, he should come to the circle of Hadith just like everyone else. This caused alienation between him and the ruler. In addition to this, the former rumors reached the ruler who was already aggravated due to al-Bukhari’s reaction. Thereupon, he expelled Imam al-Bukhari out of Bukhara. 
As he had grown old, the expulsion of Imam al-Bukhari caused painful aches inside of him as he could no longer give da'wah. On the 1st of Shawwal 256 A.H.  Imam al-Bukhari passed away at the age of 62 years in a small town near Samarkand called Khartank. It is reported that only a handful of people attended his janazah and burial... thus is the path of the righteous, those who sacrifice temporary humiliation for an eternity of honour and glory! Is there an Islamic study circle anywhere in the world where his name is not mentioned?!
May Allah bestow His Mercy upon our greatest Imam!
May Allah Reward the original author.
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