The Golden Islamic Age: Imam Bukhari and his Scholarship.
We Muslims are at our peak when we value knowledge and scholarship. The worst form is when a minority of them go on the path of intolerance and extremism. Its all is due to result of misinterpretation of religion.
The best examples of the tradition of enlightenment and scholarship in Islam can be traced back to its golden age. It stretched from the middle of the 8th century to 1258, when Baghdad was invaded and destroyed by the Mongols.
Islamic Civilization and Imam Bukhari
During this period, the direction of Islamic civilization was determined not by the fire of war but by the libraries of knowledge and wisdom. Its position was to increase the human understanding gained from ancient civilizations such as Greece and Iran.
In those centuries, the Arab world was a center for excellence in science, philosophy, medicine and education. During this period not only a high standard of education was established but also a tradition of cooperation between Muslims and different faiths was established.
Even in Andalusia or Islamic Spain, where people of different faiths lived together, education flourished during this period of Islamic enlightenment.
Golden Period of Islam
This is the golden age of Islam. The two main sources of religion and ethics in Islam are the Qur’an and Hadith. The Qur’an provides a broad moral framework and the Hadiths teach Muslims how to follow the principles and rules of the Qur’an in daily life. From this we can understand how important the hadiths and their authenticity are in Islam.
The person I want to talk about today in the Islamic Golden Age is probably the most important scholar of that era. Muhammad Ibn Ismail Al-Bukhari or only Imam Bukhari. His place among Muslims around the world is due to the preparation of the most authoritative collection of hadiths.
Ssahih Bukhari and Imam Bukhari
His book, Sahih Bukhari, contains more than 7,000 hard-earned hadiths that guide Muslims in their daily lives. Surprisingly, the story of this man, who dedicated his life to the Prophet of Islam, Hazrat Muhammad, does not begin in the deserts of Arabia where the Prophet of Islam lived, but begins in the plains of Central Asia.
It is perhaps the glory of Islam and the Prophet of Islam to be a world free from the confines of borders and races that scholars born thousands of miles away from the holy places of Islam in Arabia have defined and explained Islam.
Imam Bukhari was born in the early 9th century in the city of Bukhara. This city is now part of Uzbekistan. The two cities of Bukhara and Samarkand at that time were important centers of the Silk Road, the center of world trade, and the flourishing cradle of knowledge and civilization.
Birth Place of Imam Bukhari.
Bukhara was not only the birthplace of Imam Bukhari, but also gave the Islamic world a personality like Ibn Sina whose work in the field of medicine is revolutionary.
Imam Bukhari’s family had converted to Islam two generations before him. It was the golden era of Islam when Imam Bukhari was the part of scholarships ideas of that time. Like the Prophet of Islam, he too faced trials in his early life after the death of his father. Considering the patriarchal society of the time, life could not have been easier for him and his family. Apparently, this had a lasting effect on the personality of the young Imam Bukhari and he set out to achieve the best position in every field of his education.
The impact of his childhood on his later work was also evident, in which he placed great emphasis on the concept of social justice and community, as is evident in the teachings of the Prophet of Islam.
Imam Bukhari Hajj.
The chapter that changed life of Imam Bukhari was that when he went to Mecca and Medina. He was accompanied with his family for Hajj at the age of 16. For the young Imam Bukhari, this journey of thousands of miles, probably over the years, must have been very memorable and inspiring. This journey ignited a curiosity in him that took him to distances that lasted for more than 16 years.
The journey took the young scholar to the markets of Cairo and the ancient cities of Damascus and Baghdad. It enhances Imam Bukharis wisdom and scholarship. This journey and going to the places where the Prophet of Islam preached about 150 years ago would have been a journey of discovery for a young man looking for a place in the world.
Imam Bukhari was deeply influenced by the personality of the Prophet of Islam. He spent the whole of his life making sure that the true values of Islam, such as compassion, coexistence, equality and social justice, reached the world through the words and deeds of the Prophet of Islam.
Mission of Imam Bukhari
Imam Bukhari set a mission for himself. It was like a mountain. He traveled to remote parts of the Islamic world to confirm the hadiths and reached every corner. Imam Bukhari is said to have met more than a thousand scholars and thousands of others who claimed to have authentic hadiths of the Prophet of Islam.
Hadith and Imam Bukhari
During this time he came to know about more than 600,000 ahaadeeth. It’s the evidence of his intellectual hard work and strict quality that his book Sahih Bukhari contains only 7275 ahaadeeth of them. He believed that these were the words of the Prophet of Islam.
Bukhari’s work through book and his scholarship provides us thinking. It brings the source of strength for our faith. This message of endurance and moral courage is a staple in our daily life.
For Muslims, the first lesson in his legacy is the precision with which he distinguished between right and wrong information. Knowledge was not the name of blind faith for him. He was not at all afraid to examine the traditions presented as hadiths objectively on a scientific scale.
Imam Bukhari had to be fully convinced whether these were the words of the Prophet of Islam or not and the Prophet of Islam had indeed done what was being described as his Sunnah.
Imam Bukhari may not only have been seen in libraries of knowledge and wisdom, but he could also be seen carrying bricks to build travelers. His work of social upliftment in the spirit of faith was his model.
He wrote in one of his books that the Prophet of Islam had said that one who belongs to the society and human beings and faces difficulties in it is better than the one who is cut off from the society and does not face any difficulty.
Significance of Imam Bukhari
Imam Bukhari was a dignified and sensitive man. He wanted to build his own future. Along with the hadiths he collected, his legacy includes social cohesion and the elimination of differences among the people.
Imam Bukhari writes in his other important book Al-Adab Al-Mufrid that the Prophet of Islam, Hazrat Muhammad, asked his companions:- “Shall I tell you about a place which is higher than praying, fasting and giving alms and that is between two people?” Make friends.
Another lesson we learn from Imam Bukhari is a hadith. That Hadith conveys a message of sympathy to neighbors, elders and children. He narrated ahaadeeth such as a hadeeth which says that a person who eats on his own while his neighbor is hungry does not have faith. He further says that he who does not respect his elders and does not sympathize with children, he is not one of us.
Gender Equality and Imam Bukhari
Another misconception about Islam is about gender equality. According to Imam Bukhari, this was the most revolutionary aspect of the Qur’an and the message of the Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H). Al-Adab Al-Mufrid writes about a person who praises God for the birth of a healthy child and does not care if he is a boy or a girl. This’s about the time when the birth of a girl was considered bad. We can still learn from the teachings of gender equality when misinterpretations and ignorant attitudes and behaviors are causing the backwardness of many Muslim women.
Concept of Worship to Imam Bukhari.
There’s a lot of work to be done in places of worship. Worship is a means of expressing individual spirituality and a personal relationship with God. But in the Muslim community, and especially in the mosque, it is seen as a religious duty of men, ignoring women.
The presence of women in mosques isn’t only limited by the lack of equal facilities but also by the attitudes that form the basis of religious discrimination and superiority over one another. This is against the teachings of the Prophet of Islam which Imam Bukhari has recorded in many of his writings.
In one of the last chapters of his book Al-Adab Al-Mufrid, Imam Bukhari writes:. Do not destroy anyone because of your enmity. Imam Bukhari narrates a tradition of Hazrat Omar. “Do not let your friendship go mad and enmity go to the level of hatred”. This message is probably most needed today.