Why Al-Imaam Al-Bukhaaree Wrote His 'Saheeh'

The Shaykh, Imam, scholar, intellectual, grandmaster, proof of Islam, charm of travel for students, pillar of the dons of hadeeth, splendour of gatherings, matchless of his time, inimitable of his epoch, enlivener of the esteemed Sunnah, destroyer of the people of innovations and desires, penetrating asteroid Abul Fadl Ahmad ibn 'Alee bin Muhammad bin Muhammad bin 'Alee Al-Asqalanee popularly known as Ibn Hajar, may Allaah reward him with Paradise with His Favours and Honour said:

Know, may Allaah increase you and me in knowledge, that the narrations of the Prophet – Sallallâhu alayhi wa sallam – were not compiled in a book form during the era of the companions and the senior Tabi'een and were not arranged in a chronological order for two reasons:

Firstly, they were barred from writing it down at the outset as it is confirmed in Saheeh Muslim for the fear of some mixing up with the Quran. Secondly, because they had extensive memory, the torrential stream of their intellect plus the fact that most of them did not know how to write.

Then writing of narrations and chorological organisation of reports began towards the end of the era of the Tabi'een with the sprouting of scholars in various regions coupled with the tonnes of innovations of the Khawareej, Rawaafid and the Negators of Qadar.

Thus the first persons to compile a definite book on narrations were ArRabeeh bin Subayh, Sa'eed bin 'Abi 'Aroobah and others who compiled all the sections with zest. This continued till the rise of the third generation, so they put the rulings to paper; Imam Maalik compiled Al-Muwatta, he aspired to compile the hadeeth narrated by the people of Hijaaz and mixed it with the sayings of the companions and the rulings of the Tabi'een and those who followed them.

There was Imam Abu Muhammad 'AbdulMalik bin 'AbdilAzeez bin Juraij in Makkah, Abu 'Amr 'AbdurRahman bin 'Amr Al-Awza'ee in Shaam, Abu 'Abdillaah Sufyaan bin Sa'eed Ath-Thawree in Kufah, Abu Salamah Hammaad bin Salamah bin Deenaar in Basrah; they all compiled books on hadeeth.

Then many of their contemporaries followed them in publishing their efforts till some of the Imams opined recording the Prophet's narrations alone and that was at the end of the second century. So 'Ubaydullaah bin Musa Al-'Absee Al-Kufee compiled a Musnad, Musadad bin Musarhad Al-Basaree compiled a Musnad, Asad bin Musa compiled a Musnad, Nu'aym bin Hammaad Al-khuzaa'ee the resident of Misr compiled a Musnad and at that juncture the Imams followed their track. Hardly will you find an Imam from the great memorisers except that he compiled his hadeeth in Musnads like Imam Ahmad bin Hambal, Ishaq bin Rahawaih, 'Uthmaan bin Abi Shaibah and others from the notables. Among them were those who compiled works cataloguing based on both chapters and Musnads like Abu Bakr bin Abi Shaibah.

When Imam Al-Bukharee – may Allâh bestow mercy on him – saw these works, he had a longing which made him dissect them and he realised they contained a combination of saheeh, hasan and many that resembled weak narrations so his resolve became strong to collect the authentic narrations that no proficient person will question and his doggedness became hardened when he heard his teacher, the Ameer of the believers in hadeeth and fiqh, Is'haq bin Ibraheen Al-Hanzalee popularly known as Ibn Rahawaih and this is what has been narrated from Abu 'Abdillaah Muhammad bin Isma'eel Al-Bukharee; he said: “We were with Is'haaq bin Rahawaih so he said, "If you (plural) will compile a succinct book on the authentic Sunnah of the Messenger of Allaah – Sallallâhu alayhi wa sallam”. He (Imam Al-Bukharee) said: “So that became etched in my heart so I started the compilation of Al-Jaami' Saheeh.”

And we have relayed through an established chain that Imam Al-Bukharee said: "I saw the Prophet – Sallallâhu alayhi wa sallam – in a dream as if I was standing in front of him holding a fan with which I was guarding him from flies. So I asked some scholars versed in dream interpretation and I was told: you will defend him from lies and that invigorated me to compile Al-Jaami'As-Saheeh."

Al-Bukharee said: “I did not include a hadeeth in the Saheeh except I made ghusl before it and prayed two rakahs.” It was also narrated that he said: “I compiled the Saheeh from six hundred thousand hadeeths.” He also said: “I did not include in this book except authentic hadeeth and what I left out of authentic hadeeths are much more”.

Muhammad bin Abi Haatim – may Allâh bestow mercy on him – said: “I saw Muhammad bin Isma'eel Al-Bukharee in my dream walking behind the Prophet – Sallallâhu alayhi wa sallam – wherever the Prophet – Sallallâhu alayhi wa sallam – placed his feet, Al-Bukharee would place his feet”.

Also such dream has been narrated from Najm bin Fudayl and he was from the people of understanding.

Abu Ja'far Mahmood bin 'Amr Al-'Uqaylee said: when Al-Bukharee – may Allâh bestow mercy on him – completed his book, he presented it to Ahmad bin Hambal, Yahya bin Ma'een, 'Alee bin Madeenee and others, – may Allâh bestow mercy on all –, they gave positive comments and agreed to its authenticity except with respect to four hadeeths and the correct judgement is the opinion of Al-Bukharee and they are authentic.

Source: Hadyus-Saaree, the introduction to Fat'hul-Baaree of Ibn Hajar al-Asqalaanee

[This page was sponsored by a brother in Islam, may Allaah reward him best.]


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