Sahih al-Bukhari is a collection of hadith compiled by Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Isma'il al-Bukhari(rahimahullah). His collection is recognized by the overwhelming majority of the Muslim world to be one of the most authentic collections of the Sunnah of the Prophet (ﷺ). It contains roughly 7563 hadith (with repetitions) in 98 books.
The translation provided here is by Dr. M. Muhsin Khan.
Imam al-Bukhari (rahimahullah) is known as the Amir al-Mu'minin in hadith. His genealogy is as follows: Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Isma'il Ibn Ibrahim Ibn al-Mughirah Ibn Bardizbah al-Bukhari. His father Isma'il was a well-known and famous muhaddith in his time and had been blessed with the chance of being in the company of Imam Malik, Hammad Ibn Zaid and also Abdullah Ibn Mubarak (rahimahullahum).
Imam al-Bukhari (rahimahullah) was born on the day of Jumuah (Friday) the 13th of Shawwal 194 (A.H.). His father passed away in his childhood. At the age of sixteen after having memorized the compiled books of Imam Wakiy and Abdullah Ibn Mubarak, he performed Hajj with his elder brother and mother. After the completion of Hajj he remained in Makkah for a further two years and upon reaching the age of eighteen headed for Madinah, compiling the books "Qadhayas-Sahabah wa at-Tabi'in" and "Tarikh al-Kabir." Imam al-Bukhari also traveled to other key centers of Arabia in search of knowledge like Syria, Egypt, Kufa, Basra, and Baghdad.
Imam al-Bukhari (rahimahullah) first started listening and learning ahadith in 205 A.H., and after benefiting from the 'ulama of his town he started his travels in 210 A.H. His memory was considered to be one of a kind; after listening to a hadith he would repeat it from memory. It has been known that in his childhood he had memorized 2,000 ahadith.
There are a number of books compiled by Imam al-Bukhari (rahimahullah). His Sahih is regarded as the highest authority of the collection of hadith. He named this book "Al-Jami' al-Musnad as-Sahih al-Mukhtasar min Umuri Rasulullahi sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam wa Sunanihi wa Ayyamihi." After he finished, he showed the manuscript to his teachers Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (rahimahullah) for approval, along with Ibn al-Madini, and lastly Ibn Ma'in. It has also been recorded that it took Imam al-Bukhari a period of 16 years to gather the ahadith and to write the Sahih, which sets the date back to 217 A.H. as the year in which he started the compilation; Imam al-Bukhari (rahimahullah) being merely 23 years of age.
Before he actually placed a hadith in his compilation he performed ghusl and prayed two raka'ah nafl prayers asking Allah for guidance. He finalized each hadith in the rawdah of Masjid an-Nabawi (between the Prophet's (ﷺ) grave and his minbar) and wrote the hadith in the masjid. Only after being completely satisfied with a hadith did he give it a place in his collection.
Methods of Classification and Annotation:
Imam al-Bukhari (rahimahullah) imposed conditions which all narrators and testifiers in the hadith chain must have met before a hadith was included in his book:
- All narrators in the chain must be just ('adl).
- All narrators in the chain must possess strong memory and all the Muhadditheen who possess great knowledge of ahadith must agree upon the narrators' ability to learn and memorize, along with their reporting techniques.
- The chain must be complete without any missing narrators.
- It must be known that consecutive narrators in the chain met each other (this is Imam al-Bukhari's extra condition).
Imam an-Nawawi (rahimahullah) relates that all scholars in Islam have agreed that Sahih al-Bukhari has gained the status of being the most authentic book after the Qur'an. Sahih al-Bukhari consists of 7,563 ahadith including those ahadith which have been repeated. Without repetitions however, the total number of hadith is around 2,600.
In the year 864/250, he settled in Nishapur. It was there that he met Muslim ibn Al-Hajjaj, who would be considered his student, and eventually collector and organizer of the hadith collection Sahih Muslim which is considered second only to that of al-Bukhari.
Political problems led him to move to Khartank, a village near Samarkand where he died in the year 256 A.H./870 A.D.