Aqida Tahawiyya (The Creed of Imam Tahawi)

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By Mufti Abdur-Rahman ibn Yusuf


Aqidah al-Tahawiyya
by Imam Abu Ja'far al-Tahawi al-Hanafi (239-321 AH)
(translated by Iqbal Ahmad Azami



In the Name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate 

Imam Tahawi's al-'Aqidah, representative of the viewpoint of ahl al-Sunnah wa-al-Jama'a, has long been the most widely acclaimed, and indeed indispensable, reference work on Muslim beliefs, of which this is an edited English translation.  

Imam Abu Ja'far Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Salamah bin Salmah bin `Abd al Malik bin Salmah bin Sulaim bin Sulaiman bin Jawab Azdi, popularly known as Imam Tahawi, after his birth-place in Egypt, is among the most outstanding authorities of the Islamic world on Hadith and fiqh (jurisprudence). He lived 239-321 A.H., an epoch when both the direct and indirect disciples of the four Imams: Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Malik, Imam Shafi'i and Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal - were teaching and practicing. This period was the zenith of Hadith and fiqh studies, and Imam Tahawi studied with all the living authorities of the day. He began as a student of his maternal uncle, Isma'il bin Yahya Muzni, a leading disciple of Imam Shafi'i. 

Instinctively, however, Imam Tahawi felt drawn to the corpus of Imam Abu Hanifah's works. Indeed, he had seen his uncle and teacher turning to the works of Hanafi scholars to resolve thorny issues of Fiqh, drawing heavily on the writings of Imam Muhammad Ibn al-Hasan al-Shaybani and Imam Abu Yusuf, who had codified Hanafi fiqh. This led Imam Tahawi to devote his whole attention to studying the Hanafi works and he eventually joined the Hanafi school.  

Imam Tahawi stands out not only as a prominent follower of the Hanafi school but, in view or his vast erudition and remarkable powers of assimilation, as one of its leading scholars. His monumental scholarly works, such as Sharh Ma'ani al-Athar and Mushkil al-Athar, are encyclopaedic in scope and have long been regarded as indispensable for training students of fiqh.  

Al-'Aqidah though small in size, is a basic text for all times, listing what a Muslim must know and believe and inwardly comprehend.  

There is consensus among the Companions, Successors and all the leading Islamic authorities such as Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Abu Yusuf, Imam Muhammad, Imam Malik, Imam Shafi'i and Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal on the doctrines enumerated in this work. For these doctrines shared by ahl al-sunnah wa-al-Jama'ah owe their origin to the Holy Quran and consistent and confirmed Ahadith - the undisputed primary sources of Islam.  

Being a text on the Islamic doctrines, this work draws heavily on the arguments set forth in the Holy Qur'an and Sunnah. Likewise, the arguments advanced in refuting the views of sects that have deviated from the Sunnah, are also taken from the Holy Qur'an and Sunnah.  

As regards the sects mentioned in this work, a study of Islamic history up to the time of Imam Tahawi would be quite helpful. References to sects such as Mu'tazilah, Jahmiyyah, Qadriyah, and Jabriyah are found in the work. Moreover, it contains allusions to the unorthodox and deviant views of the Shi'ah, Khawarij and such mystics as had departed from the right path. There is an explicit reference in the work to the nonsensical controversy on khalq-al -Qu'ran in the times of Ma'mun and some other `Abbasid Caliphs.  

While the permanent relevance of the statements of belief in al-'Aqidah is obvious, the historical weight and point of certain of these statements can be properly appreciated only if the work is used as a text for study under the guidance of some learned person able to elucidate its arguments fully, with reference to the intellectual and historical background of the sects refuted in the work. Such study helps one to better understand the Islamic doctrines and avoid the deviations of the past or the present.  

May Allah grant us a true undersanding of faith and include us with those to whom Allah refers as `those who believe, fear Allah and do good deeds'; and `he who fears Allah, endures affliction, then Allah will not waste the reward of well-doers.'  
Iqbal Ahmad A'zami 
In the Name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate  

Praise be to Allah, Lord of all the Worlds.  
The great scholar Hujjat al-lslam Abu Ja'far al-Warraq al-Tahawi al-Misri, may Allah have mercy on him, said:  
This is a presentation of the beliefs of ahl-al-Sunnah wa al-Jama'ah, according to the school of the jurists of this religion, Abu Hanifah an-Nu'man ibn Thabit al-Kufi, Abu Yusuf Ya'qub ibn Ibrahim al-Ansari and Abu `Abdullah Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Shaybani, may Allah be pleased with them all, and what they believe regarding the fundamentals of the religion and their faith in the Lord of all the Worlds.
  1. We say about Allah's unity believing by Allah's help - that Allah is One, without any partners.  
  2. There is nothing like Him.  
  3. There is nothing that can overwhelm Him.  
  4. There is no god other than Him.  
  5. He is the Eternal without a beginning and enduring without end.  
  6. He will never perish or come to an end.  
  7. Nothing happens except what He wills.  
  8. No imagination can conceive of Him and no understanding can comprehend Him.  
  9. He is different from any created being.  
  10. He is living and never dies and is eternally active and never sleeps.  
  11. He creates without His being in need to do so and provides for His creation without any effort.  
  12. He causes death with no fear and restores to life without difficulty.  
  13. He has always existed together with His attributes since before creation. Bringing creation into existence did not add anything to His attributes that was not already there. As He was, together with His attributes, in pre-eternity, so He will remain throughout endless time.  
  14. It was not only after the act of creation that He could be described as `the Creator' nor was it only by the act of origination that He could he described as `the Originator'.  
  15. He was always the Lord even when there was nothing to be Lord of, and always the Creator even when there was no creation.  
  16. In the same way that He is the `Bringer to life of the dead', after He has brought them to life a first time, and deserves this name before bringing them to life, so too He deserves the name of `Creator' before He has created them.  
  17. This is because He has the power to do everything, everything is dependent on Him, everything is easy for Him, and He does not need anything. `There is nothing like Him and He is the Hearer, the Seer'. (al-Shura 42:11)  
  18. He created creation with His knowledge.  
  19. He appointed destinies for those He created.  
  20. He allotted to them fixed life spans.  
  21. Nothing about them was hidden from Him before He created them, and He knew everything that they would do before He created them.  
  22. He ordered them to obey Him and forbade them to disobey Him.  
  23. Everything happens according to His decree and will, and His will is accomplished. The only will that people have is what He wills for them. What He wills for them occurs and what He does not will, does not occur.  
  24. He gives guidance to whoever He wills, and protects them, and keeps them safe from harm, out of His generosity; and He leads astray whoever He wills, and abases them, and afflicts them, out of His justice.  
  25. All of them are subject to His will between either His generosity or His justice.  
  26. He is exalted beyond having opposites or equals.  
  27. No one can ward off His decree or put back His command or overpower His affairs.  
  28. We believe in all of this and are certain that everything comes from Him.  
  29. And we are certain that Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) is His chosen servant and selected Prophet and His Messenger with whom He is well pleased.  
  30. And that he is the seal of the prophets and the Imam of the godfearing and the most honoured of all the messengers and the beloved of the Lord of all the Worlds.  
  31. Every claim to prophethood after Him is falsehood and deceit.  
  32. He is the one who has been sent to all the jinn and all mankind with truth and guidance and with light and illumination.  
  33. The Qur'an is the word of Allah. It came from Him as speech without it being possible to say how. He sent it down on His Messenger as revelation. The believers accept it, as absolute truth. They are certain that it is, in truth, the word of Allah. It is not created, as is the speech of human beings, and anyone who hears it and claims that it is human speech has become an unbeliever. Allah warns him and censures him and threatens him with Fire when He says, Exalted is He:  
  34. `I will burn him in the Fire.' (al-Muddaththir 74:26) 
    When Allah threatens with the Fire those who say  
    `This is just human speech' (al-Muddaththir 74:25) 
    we know for certain that it is the speech of the Creator of mankind and that it is totally unlike the speech of mankind.  
  35. Anyone who describes Allah as being in any way the same as a human being has become an unbeliever. All those who grasp this will take heed and refrain from saying things such as the unbelievers say, and they will know that He, in His attributes, is not like human beings.  
  36. `The Seeing of Allah by the People of the Garden' is true, without their vision being all-encompassing and without the manner of their vision being known. As the Book of our Lord has expressed it:  
  37. `Faces on that Day radiant, looking at their Lord'. (al-Qiyamah 75:22-3) 
    The explanation of this is as Allah knows and wills. Everything that has come down to us about this from the Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, in authentic traditions, is as he said and means what he intended. We do not delve into that, trying to interpret it according to our own opinions or letting our imaginations have free rein. No one is safe in his religion unless he surrenders himself completely to Allah, the Exalted and Glorified and to His Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and leaves the knowledge of things that are ambiguous to the one who knows them.  
  38. A man's Islam is not secure unless it is based on submission and surrender. Anyone who desires to know things which it is beyond his capacity to know, and whose intellect is not content with surrender, will find that his desire veils him from a pure understanding of Allah's true Unity, clear knowledge and correct belief, and that he veers between disbelief and belief, confirmation and denial and acceptance and rejection. He will be subject to whisperings and find himself confused and full of doubt, being neither an accepting believer nor a denying rejector.  
  39. Belief of a man in the `seeing of Allah by the people of the Garden is not correct if he imagines what it is like, or interprets it according to his own understanding since the interpretation of this seeing' or indeed, the meaning of any of the subtle phenomena which are in the realm of Lordship, is by avoiding its interpretation and strictly adhering to the submission. `This is the din of Muslims. Anyone who does not guard himself against negating the attributes of Allah, or likening Allah to something else, has gone astray and has failed to understand Allah's Glory, because our Lord, the Glorified and the Exalted, can only possibly be described in terms of Oneness and Absolute Singularity and no creation is in any way like Him.  
  40. He is beyond having limits placed on Him, or being restricted, or having parts or limbs. Nor is He contained by the six directions as all created things are.  
  41. Al-Mi'raj (the Ascent through the heavens) is true. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was taken by night and ascended in his bodily form, while awake, through the heavens, to whatever heights Allah willed for him. Allah ennobled him in the way that He ennobled him and revealed to him what He revealed to him,  
  42. `and his heart was not mistaken about what it saw' (al-Najm 53:11).
    Allah blessed him and granted him peace in this world and the next.  
  43. Al-Hawd, (the Pool which Allah will grant the Prophet as an honour to quench the thirst of His Ummah on the Day Of Judgement), is true.  
  44. Al-Shifa'ah, (the intercession, which is stored up for Muslims), is true, as related in the (consistent and confirmed) Ahadith.  
  45. The covenant `which Allah made with Adam and his offspring' is true.  
  46. Allah knew, before the existence of time, the exact number of those who would enter the Garden and the exact number of those who would enter the Fire. This number will neither be increaser nor decreased.  
  47. The same applies to all actions done by people, which are done exactly as Allah knew they would be done. Everyone is cased to what he was created for and it is the action with which a man's life is sealed which dictates his fate. Those who are fortunate are fortunate by the decree of Allah, and those who are wretched are wretched by the decree of Allah.  
  48. The exact nature of the decree is Allah's secret in His creation, and no angel near the Throne, nor Prophet sent with a message, has been given knowledge of it. Delving into it and reflecting too much about it only leads to destruction and loss, and results in rebelliousness. So be extremely careful about thinking and reflecting on this matter or letting doubts about it assail you, because Allah has kept knowledge of the decree away from human beings, and forbidden them to enquire about it, saying in His Book,  
  49. `He is not asked about what He does but they are asked'. (al-Anbiya' 21:23) 
    So anyone who asks: `Why did Allah do that?' has gone against a judgement of the Book, and anyone who goes against a judgement of the Book is an unbeliever.  
  50. This in sum is what those of Allah's friends with enlightened hearts need to know and constitutes the degree of those firmly endowed with knowledge. For there are two kinds of knowledge: knowledge which is accessible to created beings, and knowledge which is not accessible to created beings. Denying the knowledge which is accessible is disbelief, and claiming the knowledge which is inaccessible is disbelief. Belief can only be firm when accessible knowledge is accepted and inaccessible knowledge is not sought after.  
  51. We believe in al-Lawh (the Tablet) and al-Qalam (the Pen) and in everything written on it. Even if all created beings were to gather together to make something fail to exist, whose existence Allah had written on the Tablet, they would not be able to do so. And if all created beings were to gather together to make something exist which Allah had not written on it, they would not be able to do so. The Pen has dried having written down all that will be in existence until the Day of Judgement. Whatever a person has missed he would have never got it, and whatever one gets, he would have never missed it.  
  52. It is necessary for the servant to know that Allah already knows everything that is going to happen in His creation and decreed it in a detailed and decisive way. There is nothing that He has created in either the heavens or the earth that can contradict it, or add to it, or erase it, or change it, or decrease it, or increase it in any way. This is a fundamental aspect of belief and a necessary element of all knowledge and recognition of Allah's Oneness and Lordship. As Allah says in His Book:  
  53. `He created everything and decreed it in a detailed way'. (al-Furqan 25:2) 
    And He also says:  
    `Allah's command is always a decided decree'. (al-Ahzab 33:38)
    So woe to anyone who argues with Allah concerning the decree and who, with a sick heart, starts delving into this matter. In his delusory attempt to investigate the Unseen, he is seeking a secret that can never be uncovered, and he ends up an evil-doer, telling nothing but lies.  
  54. Al-'Arsh (the Throne) and al-Kursi (the Chair) are true.  
  55. He is independent of the Throne and what is beneath it.  
  56. He encompasses everything and is above it, and what He has created is incapable of encompassing Him.  
  57. We say with belief, acceptance and submission that Allah took Ibrahim as an intimate friend and that He spoke directly to Musa.  
  58. We believe in the angels, and the Prophets, and the books which were revealed to the messengers, and we bear witness that they were all following the manifest Truth.  
  59. We call the people of our qiblah Muslims and believers as long as they acknowledge what the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, brought, and accept as true everything that he said and told us about.  
  60. We do not enter into vain talk about Allah nor do we allow any dispute about the religion Of Allah.  
  61. We do not argue about the Qur'an and we bear witness that it is the speech of the Lord of all the Worlds which the Trustworthy Spirit came down with and taught the most honoured Of all the Messengers, Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. It is the speech of Allah and no speech of any created being is comparable to it. We do not say that it was created and we do not go against the Jama'ah of the Muslims regarding it.  
  62. We do not consider any of the people of our qiblah to he unbelievers because of any wrong action they have done, as long as they do not consider that action to have been lawful.  
  63. Nor do we say that the wrong action of a man who has belief does not have a harmful effect on him.  
  64. We hope that Allah will pardon the people of right action among the believers and grant them entrance into the Garden through His mercy, but we cannot be certain of this, and we cannot bear witness that it will definitely happen and that they will be in the Garden. We ask forgiveness for the people of wrong action among the believers and, although we are afraid for them, we are not in despair about them.  
  65. Certainty and despair both remove one from the religion, but the path of truth for the people of the qiblah lies between the two (e.g. a person must fear and be conscious of Allah's reckoning as well as be hopeful of Allah's mercy).  
  66. A person does not step out or belief except by disavowing what brought him into it.  
  67. Belief consists of affirmation by the tongue and acceptance by the heart.  
  68. And the whole of what is proven from the Prophet, upon him be peace, regarding the Shari'ah and the explanation (of the Qur'an and of Islam) is true.  
  69. Belief is, at base, the same for everyone, but the superiority of some over others in it is due to their fear and awareness of Allah, their opposition to their desires, and their choosing what is more pleasing to Allah.  
  70. All the believers are `friends' of Allah and the noblest of them in the sight of Allah are those who are the most obedient and who most closely follow the Qur'an.  
  71. Belief consists of belief in Allah. His angels, His books, His messengers, the Last Day, and belief that the Decree - both the good of it and the evil of it, the sweet of it and the bitter or it - is all from Allah.  
  72. We believe in all these things. We do not make any distinction between any of the messengers, we accept as true what all of them brought.  
  73. Those of the Ummah of Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, who have committed grave sins will be in the Fire, but not forever, provided they die and meet Allah as believers affirming His unity even if they have not repented. They are subject to His will and judgement. If He wants, He will forgive them and pardon them out of His generosity, as is mentionied in the Qur'an when He says:  
  74. `And He forgives anything less than that (shirk) to whoever He wills' (al-Nisa' 4: 116); 
    and if He wants, He will punish them in the Fire out of His justice and then bring them out of the Fire through His mercy, and for the intercession of those who were obedient to Him, and send them to the Garden. This is because Allah is the Protector of those who recognize Him and will not treat them in the Next World in the same way as He treats those who deny Him and who are bereft of His guidance and have failed to obtain His protection. O Allah, You are the Protector of Islam and its people; make us firm in Islam until the day we meet You.  
  75. We agree with doing the prayer behind any of the people of the qiblah whether right-acting or wrong-acting, and doing the funeral prayer over any of them when they die.  
  76. We do not say that any of them will categorically go to either the Garden or the Fire, and we do not accuse any of them of kufr (disbelief), shirk (associating partners with Allah), or nifaq (hypocrisy), as long as they have not openly demonstrated any of those things. We leave their secrets to Allah.  
  77. We do not agree with killing any of the Ummah of Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, unless it is obligatory by Shari'ah to do so.  
  78. We do not recognize rebellion against our Imam or those in charge of our affairs even if they are unjust, nor do we wish evil on them, nor do we withdraw from following them. We hold that obedience to them is part of obedience to Allah, The Glorified, and therefore obligatory as long as they do not order to commit sins. We pray for their right guidance and pardon from their wrongs.  
  79. We follow the Sunnah of the Prophet and the Jama'ah of the Muslims, and avoid deviation, differences and divisions.  
  80. We love the people of justice and trustworthiness, and hate the people of injustice and treachery.  
  81. When our knowledge about something is unclear, we say: `Allah knows best'.  
  82. We agree with wiping over leather socks (in Wudu) whether on a journey or otherwise, just as has come in the (consistent and confirmed) ahadith.  
  83. Hajj and jihad under the leadership of those in charge of the Muslims, whether they are right or wrong-acting, are continuing obligations until the Last Hour comes. Nothing can annul or controvert them.  
  84. We believe in Kiraman Katibin (the noble angels) who write down our actions for Allah has appointed them over us as two guardians.  
  85. We believe in the Angel of Death who is charged with taking the spirits of all the worlds.  
  86. We believe in the punishment in the grave for those who deserve it, and in the questioning in the grave by Munkar and Nakir about one's Lord, one's religion and one's prophet, as has come down in ahadith from the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and in reports from the Companions, may Allah be pleased with them all.  
  87. The grave is either one of the meadows of the Garden or one of the pits of the Fire.  
  88. We believe in being brought back to life after death and in being recompensed for our actions on the Day of Judgement, and al-'Ard, having been shown them and al-Hisab, brought to account for them. And Qira'at al-Kitab, reading the book, and the reward or punishments and in al-Sirat (the Bridge) and al-Mizan (the Balance).  
  89. The Garden and the Fire are created things that never come to an end and we believe that Allah created them before the rest of creation and then created people to inhabit each of them. Whoever He wills goes to the Garden out of His Bounty and whoever He wills goes to the Fire through His justice. Everybody acts in accordance with what is destined for him and goes towards what he has been created for.  
  90. Good and evil have both been decreed for people.  
  91. The capability in terms of Tawfiq (Divine Grace and Favour) which makes an action certain to occur cannot be ascribed to a created being. This capability is integral with action, whereas the capability of an action in terms of having the necessary health, and ability, being in a position to act and having the necessary means, exists in a person before the action. It is this type of capability which is the object of the dictates of Shariah. Allah the Exalted says:  
  92. `Allah does not charge a person except according to his ability'. (al-Baqarah 2: 286)
  93. People's actions are created by Allah but earned by people.  
  94. Allah, the Exalted, has only charged people with what they are able to do and people are only capable to do what Allah has favoured them. This is the explanation of the phrase: `There is no power and no strength except by Allah.' We add to this that there is no stratagem or way by which anyone can avoid or escape disobedience to Allah except with Allah's help; nor does anyone have the strength to put obedience to Allah into practice and remain firm in it, except if Allah makes it possible for them to do so.  
  95. Everything happens according to Allah's will, knowledge, predestination and decree. His will overpowers all other wills and His decree overpowers all stratagems. He does whatever He wills and He is never unjust. He is exalted in His purity above any evil or perdition and He is perfect far beyond any fault or flaw. `He will not be asked about what He does but they will he asked.' (al-Anbiya' 21: 23)  
  96. There is benefit for dead people in the supplication and alms-giving of the living.  
  97. Allah responds to people's supplications and gives them what they ask for.  
  98. Allah has absolute control over everything and nothing has any control over Him. Nothing can be independent of Allah even for the blinking of an eye, and whoever considers himself independent of Allah for the blinking of an eye is guilty of unbelief and becomes one of the people of perdition.  
  99. Allah is angered and can be pleased but not in the same way as any creature.  
  100. We love the Companions of the Messenger of Allah but we do not go to excess in our love for any one individual among them nor do we disown any one of them. We hate anyone who hates them or does not speak well of them and we only speak well of them. Love of them is a part of Islam, part of belief and part of excellent behaviour, while hatred of them is unbelief, hypocrisy and rebelliousness.  
  101. We confirm that, after the death of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, the caliphate went first to Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, may Allah be pleased with him, thus proving his excellence and superiority over the rest of the Muslims; then to `Umar ibn alKhattab, may Allah be pleased with him; then to `Uthman, may Allah be pleased with him; and then to `Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him. These are the Rightly-Guided Caliphs and upright leaders.  
  102. We bear witness that the ten who were named by the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and who were promised the Garden by him, will be in the Garden, as the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, whose word is truth, bore witness that they would he. The ten are: Abu Bakr, `Umar, `Uthman, `Ali, Talhah, Zubayr, Sa'd, Sa'id, `Abdur-Rahman ibn `Awf and Abu `Ubaydah ibn al-Jarrah whose title was the trustee of this Ummah, may Allah be pleased with all of them.  
  103. Anyone who speaks well of the Companions of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and his wives and offspring, who are all pure and untainted by any impurity, is free from the accusation of hypocrisy.  
  104. The learned men of the first community and those who followed in their footsteps - the people of virtue, the narrators of the Ahadith, the jurists and analysts- they must only be spoken about in the best way and anyone who says anything bad about them is not on the right path.  
  105. We do not prefer any of the saintly men among the Ummah over any of the Prophets but rather we say that any one of the Prophets is better than all the awliya' put together.  
  106. We believe in what we know of Karamat, the marvels of the awliya' and in authentic stories about them from trustworthy sources.  
  107. We believe in the signs of the Hour such as the appearance of the Dajjal and the descent of `Isa ibn Maryam, peace be upon him, from heaven and we believe in the rising of the sun from where it sets and in the emergence of the Beast from the earth.  
  108. We do not accept as true what soothsayers and fortune-tellers say, nor do we accept the claims of those who affirm anything which goes against the Book, the Sunnah and the consensus of the Muslim Ummah.  
  109. We agree that holding together is the true and right path and that separation is deviation and torment.  
  110. There is only one religion of Allah in the heavens and the earth and that is the religion of Islam. Allah says:  
  111. `Surely religion in the sight of Allah is Islam'. (Al `Imran 3:19) 
    And He also says:  
    `I am pleased with Islam as a religion for you'. (al-Matidah 5:3) 
  112. Islam lies between going to excess and falling short, between Tashbih (likening of Allah's attributes to anything else), and Tatil (denying Allah's attributes), between fatalism and refusing decree as proceeding from Allah and between certainty (without being conscious of Allah's reckoning) and despair (of Allah's mercy).  
  113. This is our religion and it is what we believe in, both inwardly and outwardly, and we renounce any connection, before Allah, with anyone who goes against what we have said and made clear.  
We ask Allah to make us firm in our belief and seal our lives with it and to protect us from variant ideas, scattering opinions and evil schools of view such as those of the Mushabbihah, the Mu'tazilah, the Jahmiyyah the Jabriyah, the Qadriyah and others like them who go against the Sunnah and Jama'ah and have allied themselves with error. We renounce any connection with them and in our opinion they are in error and on the path of destruction.  
We ask Allah to protect us from all falsehood and we ask His Grace and Favour to do all good.


Imam Ahmad Hanbal rah.

Imam Ahmad

by Dr. G.F.Haddad

Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Hanbal, Abu `Abd Allah al-Dhuhli al-Shaybani al-Marwazi al-Baghdadi (d. 241). Al-Dhahabi says of him: "The true Shaykh of Islam and leader of the Muslims in his time, the hadith master and proof of the Religion. He took hadith from Hushaym, Ibrahim ibn Sa`d, Sufyan ibn `Uyayna, `Abbad ibn `Abbad, Yahya ibn Abi Za’ida, and their layer. From him narrated al-Bukhari [two hadiths in the Sahih], Muslim [22], Abu Dawud [254], Abu Zur`a, Mutayyan, `Abd Allah ibn Ahmad, Abu al-Qasim al-Baghawi, and a huge array of scholars. His father was a soldier (one of those who called to Islam) and he died young." Al-Dhahabi continues: `Abd Allah ibn Ahmad said: "I heard Abu Zur`a (al-Razi) say: ‘Your father had memorized a million hadiths, which I rehearsed with him according to topic.’"

Hanbal said: "I heard Abu `Abd Allah say: ‘I memorized everything which I heard from Hushaym when he was alive.’"

Ibrahim al-Harbi said: "I held Ahmad as one for whom Allah had gathered up the combined knowledge of the first and the last."

Harmala said: "I heard al-Shafi`i say: ‘I left Baghdad and did not leave behind me anyone more virtuous (afdal), more learned (a`lam), more knowledgeable (afqah) than Ahmad ibn Hanbal.’"

`Ali ibn al-Madini said: "Truly, Allah reinforced this Religion with Abu Bakr al-Siddiq the day of the Great Apostasy (al-Ridda), and He reinforced it with Ahmad ibn Hanbal the day of the Inquisition (al-Mihna)."

Abu `Ubayd said: "The Science at its peak is in the custody of four men, of whom Ahmad ibn Hanbal is the most knowledgeable."

Ibn Ma`in said, as related by `Abbas [al-Duri]: "They meant for me to be like Ahmad, but û by Allah! û I shall never in my life compare to him."

Muhammad ibn Hammad al-Taharani said: "I heard Abu Thawr say: ‘Ahmad is more learned û or knowledgeable û than al-Thawri.’"

Al-Dhahabi concludes: "Al-Bayhaqi wrote Abu `Abd Allah’s biography (sîra) in one volume, so did Ibn al-Jawzi, and also Shaykh al-Islam [`Abd Allah al-Harawi] al-Ansari in a brief volume. He passed on to Allah’s good pleasure on the day of Jum`a, the twelfth of Rabi` al-Awwal in the year 241, at the age of seventy-seven. I have two of his short-chained narrations (`awâlîh), and a licence (ijâza) for the entire Musnad." Al-Dhahabi’s chapter on Imam Ahmad in Siyar A`lam al-Nubala’ counts no less than 113 pages.

One of the misunderstandings prevalent among the "Salafis" who misrepresent Imam Ahmad’s school today is his position regarding kalam or dialectic theology. It is known that he was uncompromisingly opposed to kalâm as a method, even if used as a means to defend the truth, preferring to stick to the plain narration of textual proofs and abandoning all recourse to dialectical or rational ones. Ibn al-Jawzi relates his saying: "Do not sit with the people of kalam, even if they defend the Sunna." This attitude is at the root of his disavowal of al-Muhasibi. It also explains the disaffection of later Hanbalis towards Imam al-Ash`ari and his school, despite his subsequent standing as the Imam of Sunni Muslims par excellence. The reasons for this rift are now obsolete although the rift has amplified beyond all recognizable shape, as it is evident, in retrospect, that opposition to Ash`aris, for various reasons, came out of a major misunderstanding of their actual contributions within the Community, whether as individuals or as a whole.

There are several general reasons why the Hanbali-mutakallim rift should be considered artificial and obsolete. First, kalam in its original form was an innovation in Islam (bid`a) against which there was unanimous opposition among Ahl al-Sunna. The first to use kalam were true innovators opposed to the Sunna, and in the language of the early scholars kalam was synonymous with the doctrines of the Qadariyya, Murji’a, Jahmiyya, Jabriyya, Rawâfid, and Mu`tazila and their multifarious sub-sects. This is shown by the examples Ibn Qutayba gives of kalam and mutakallimun in his book Mukhtalif al-Hadith, none of which belongs to Ahl al-Sunna. Similarly the adherents of kalam brought up in the speech of al-Hasan al-Basri, Ibn al-Mubarak, Ibn Rahuyah, Imam al-Shafi`i and the rest of the pre-Hanbali scholars of hadith are the innovators of the above-mentioned sects, not those who later opposed them using the same methods of reasoning. The latter cannot be put in the same category. Therefore the early blames of kalam cannot be applied to them in the same breath with the innovators.

Second, there is difference of opinion among the Salaf on the possible use of kalam to defend the Sunna, notwithstanding Imam Ahmad’s position quoted above. One reason why they disallowed it is wara`: because of extreme scrupulousness against learning and practicing a discipline initiated by the enemies of the Sunna. Thus they considered kalam reprehensible but not forbidden, as is clear from their statements. For example, Ibn Abi Hatim narrated that al-Shafi`i said: "If I wanted to publish books refuting every single opponent [of the Sunna] I could easily do so, but kalam is not for me, and I dislike that anything of it be attributed to me." This shows that al-Shafi`i left the door open for others to enter a field which he abstained from entering out of strict Godwariness.

Third, kalam is a difficult, delicate science which demands a mind above the norm. The imams forbade it as a sadd al-dharî`a or pre-empting measure. They rightly foresaw that unless one possessed an adequate capacity to practice it, one was courting disaster. This was the case with Ahmad’s student Abu Talib, and other early Hanbalis who misinterpreted Ahmad’s doctrinal positions as Bukhari himself stated. Bukhari, Ahmad, and others of the Salaf thus experienced first hand that one who played with kalam could easily lapse into heresy, innovation, or disbelief. This was made abundantly clear in Imam Malik’s answer to the man who asked how Allah established Himself over the Throne: "The establishment is known, the ‘how’ is inconceivable, and to ask about it is an innovation!" Malik’s answer is the essence of kalâm at the same time as it warns against the misuse of kalam, as observed by the late Dr. Abu al-Wafa’ al-Taftazani.

Malik’s reasoning is echoed by al-Shafi`i’s advice to his student al-Muzani: "Take proofs from creation in order to know about the Creator, and do not burden yourself with the knowledge of what your mind did not reach." Similarly, Ibn Khuzayma and Ibn Abi Hatim admitted their technical ignorance of the science of kalâm, at the same time acknowledging its possible good use by qualified experts. As for Ibn Qutayba, he regretted his kalam days and preferred to steer completely clear of it.

In conclusion, any careful reader of Islamic intellectual history can see that if the Ash`ari scholars of kalam had not engaged and defeated the various theological and philosophical sects on their own terrain, the silence of Ahl al-Sunna might well have sealed their defeat at the hands of their opponents. This was indicated by Taj al-Din al-Subki who spoke of the obligatoriness of kalam in certain specific circumstances, as opposed to its superfluousness in other times. "The use of kalam in case of necessity is a legal obligation (wajib), and to keep silence about kalam in case other than necessity is a sunna."

The biographical notice on Imam Ahmad in the Reliance of the Traveller reads: "Out of piety, Imam Ahmad never gave a formal legal opinion (fatwa) while Shafi`i was in Iraq, and when he later formulated his school of jurisprudence, he mainly drew on explicit texts from the [Qur’an], hadith, and scholarly consensus, with relatively little expansion from analogical reasoning (qiyâs). He was probably the most learned in the sciences of hadith of the four great Imams of Sacred Law, and his students included many of the foremost scholars of hadith. Abu Dawud said of him: ‘Ahmad’s gatherings were gatherings of the afterlife: nothing of this world was mentioned. Never once did I hear him mention this-worldly things.’ ... He never once missed praying in the night, and used to recite the entire [Qur’an] daily. He said, ‘I saw the Lord of Power in my sleep, and said, "O Lord, what is the best act through which those near to You draw nearer?" and He answered, "Through [reciting] (sic) My word, O Ahmad." I asked, "With understanding, or without?" and He answered, "With understanding and without."’. . . Ahmad was imprisoned and tortured for twenty-eight months under the Abbasid caliph al-Mu`tasim in an effort to force him to publicly espouse the [Mu`tazila] position that the Holy [Qur’an] was created, but the Imam bore up unflinchingly under the persecution and refused to renounce the belief of Ahl al-Sunna that the [Qur’an] is the uncreated word of Allah, after which Allah delivered and vindicated him. When Ahmad died in 241/855, he was accompanied to his resting place by a funeral procession of eight hundred thousand men and sixty thousand women, marking the departure of the last of the four great mujtahid Imams of Islam."

Ibn al-Jawzi narrates from Bilal al-Khawass that the latter met al-Khidr and asked him: "What do you say of al-Shafi`i?" He said: "One of the Pillar-Saints (Awtâd)." "Ahmad ibn Hanbal?" "He is a Siddîq."

Main sources: al-Dhahabi, Siyar A`lam al-Nubala’ 9:434-547 #1876 and Tadhkira al-Huffaz 2:431 #438.

Menghitung dzikir - 1

Abu Hurairah r.a meriwayatkan, Rasulullah shallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam telah bersabda:

مَنْ سَبَّحَ اللَّهَ فِي دُبُرِ كُلِّ صَلَاةٍ ثَلَاثًا وَثَلَاثِينَ وَحَمِدَ اللَّهَ ثَلَاثًا وَثَلَاثِينَ وَكَبَّرَ اللَّهَ ثَلَاثًا وَثَلَاثِينَ فَتْلِكَ تِسْعَةٌ وَتِسْعُونَ وَقَالَ تَمَامَ الْمِائَةِ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ وَحْدَهُ لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ لَهُ الْمُلْكُ وَلَهُ الْحَمْدُ وَهُوَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ غُفِرَتْ خَطَايَاهُ وَإِنْ كَانَتْ مِثْلَ زَبَدِ الْبَحْرِ
Barangsiapa bertasbih kepada Allah sehabis shalat sebanyak tiga puluh tiga kali, dan bertahmid kepada Allah tiga puluh tiga kali, dan bertakbir kepada Allah tiga puluh tiga kali, hingga semuanya berjumlah sembilan puluh sembilan, dan untuk menggenapkan jadi seratus dia membaca: LAA ILAHA ILLALLAHU WAHDAHU LAA SYARIKA LAH, LAHUL MULKU WALAHUL HAMDU WA HUWA ALA KULLI SYAY`IN QADIR, maka kesalahan-kesalahannya akan diampuni walau sebanyak buih di lautan.” (Muslim no. 597)

1. Hadits yang diriwayatkan oleh Abu Dawud, Tirmidzi, An-Nasai dan Al-Hakim berasal dari Ibnu Umar ra. yang mengatakan: “Rasulullah s.a.w menghitung dzikir dengan jari-jarinya dan menyarankan para sahaba supaya mengikuti cara beliau saw.”.

"Hendaklah kalian sentiasa bertasbih (berdzikir), bertahlil dan bertaqdis (yakni berdzikir dengan menyebut ke–Esa-an dan ke-Suci-an Allah swt.). Janganlah kalian sampai lupa hingga kalian akan melupakan tauhid. Hitunglah dzikir kalian dengan jari, kerana jari-jari kelak akan ditanya oleh Allah dan akan diminta berbicara" .

2. Imam Tirmidzi, Al-Hakim dan Thabarani meriwayatkan sebuah hadits berasal dari Shofiyyah yang mengatakan: "Bahawa pada suatu saat Rasulullah s.a.w datang kerumahnya. Beliau melihat empat ribu butir biji kurma yang biasa digunakan oleh Shofiyyah untuk menghitung dzikir. Beliau s.a.w bertanya; ‘Hai binti Huyay, apakah itu ?‘ Shofiyyah menjawab ; ‘Itulah yang aku pergunakan untuk menghitung dzikirku’. Beliau s.a.w kemudian berkata; ‘Sesungguhnya engkau dapat berdzikir lebih banyak dari itu’. Shofiyyah menyahut; ‘Ya Rasulullah, ajarilah aku’. Rasulullah s.a.w menjawab; ‘Sebutlah, Maha Suci Allah sebanyak ciptaan-Nya’ ".

3. Abu Dawud dan Tirmidzi meriwayatkan sebuah hadits yang dinilai sebagai hadits hasan oleh An-Nasai, Ibnu Majah, Ibnu Hibban dan Al-Hakim iaitu hadits yang berasal dari Sa’ad bin Abi Waqqash r.a yang menyatakan:

"Bahawa pada suatu hari Rasulullah s.a.w singgah dirumah seorang wanita. Beliau melihat banyaknya batu kerikil yang biasa dipergunakan oleh wanita tersebut untuk menghitung dzikir. Beliau bertanya; ‘Mahukah engkau, daku sampaikan cara yang lebih mudah dari itu dan lebih afdhal?’ Sebutlah kalimat-kalimat ini: ‘Subhanallahi ‘adada maa kholaga fis samaai, subhanallahi ‘adada maa kholaga fil ardhi, subhanallahi  ‘adada maa baina dzaalika, Allahu akbaru mitslu dzaalika, wal hamdu lillahi mitslu dzaalika, wa laa ilaaha illallahu mitslu dzaalika wa laa guwwata illaa billahi mitslu dzaalika’ ".

Yang ertinya : "Maha suci Allah sebanyak makhluk-Nya yang dilangit, Maha suci Allah sebanyak makhluk-Nya yang dibumi, Maha suci Allah sebanyak makhluk ciptaan-Nya. (sebutkan juga) Allah Maha Besar, seperti tadi, Puji syukur kepada Allah seperti tadi, Tidak ada Tuhan selain Allah, seperti tadi dan tidak ada kekuatan kecuali dari Allah, seperti tadi !’ ".

  • Galakan menghitung dengan jari dalam hadits diatas bukan bererti melarang menghitung dzikir dengan cara yang lain. Contoh riwayat number 2 diatas dimana, Rasulallah s.a.w tidak melarang atau tidak mengatakan bahawa Shofiyyah harus berdzikir dengan jari-jarinya bila melihat Shofiyyah menggunakan biji kurma untuk menghitung dzikirnya, namun menerangkan akan fadhilat suatu dzikir yang bila dibaca, melebihi segala dzikir yang dilakukan oleh Shofiyyah. Sebegitu juga, riwayat number 3 diatas, Rasulullah s.a.w tidak melarang seorang wanita yang menggunakan batu kerikil untuk menghitung dzikirnya dengan kata lain beliau s.a.w tidak memerintah wanita tersebut untuk membuang batu kerikilnya dan menghitung dzikirnya dengan jari-jari atau menghadkan hitungan dzikir yang dilakukan oleh wanita tersebut, tetapi mengajarkan bacaan-bacaan yang lebih utama dan lebih mudah dibaca.
Sebahagian riwayat akan para sahaba serta generasi salaf yang menggunakan biji kurma, batu-batu kerikil, ikatan simpulan benang dan lain-lain untuk menghitung dzikir.

1 - Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal didalam Musnadnya meriwayatkan bahawa seorang sahabat Nabi yang bernama Abu Shofiyyah menghitung dzikirnya dengan batu-batu kerikil. Riwayat ini dikemukakan juga oleh Imam Al-Baihaqi dalam Mu’jamus Shahabah;  "Bahawa Abu Shofiyyah, maula Rasulallah saw. menghamparkan selembar kulit kemudian mengambil sebuah kantong berisi batu-batu kerikil, lalu duduk berdzikir sehingga tengah hari. Setelah itu ia menyimpannya. Selesai sholat zuhur, ia mengambilnya kembali lalu berdzikir sehinggalah petang hari ".

2 - Abu Syaibah juga mengutip hadits ‘Ikrimah yang mengatakan; "Bahawa Abu Hurairah r.a mempunyai seutas benang dengan seribu ikatan simpulan. Setelah berdzikir dua belas ribu kali, barulah ia tidur".

3 - Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal dalam Musnadnya bab Zuhud mengemukakan; "Bahawa Abu Darda r.a mempunyai sejumlah biji kurma yang disimpan dalam kantong. Selesai sholat shubuh, biji kurma itu dikeluarkan satu persatu untuk menghitung dzikirnya sehingga habis".

4 - Abu Syaibah juga mengatakan; "Bahawa Sa’ad bin Abi Waqqash r.a menghitung dzikirnya dengan batu kerikil atau biji kurma. Demikian juga dengan Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri".

5 - Dalam kitab Al-Manahil Al-Musalsalah Abdulbaqi mengetengahkan sebuah riwayat yang mengatakan; "Bahawa Fathimah binti Al-Husain ra mempunyai benang yang banyak ikatan simpulannya untuk menghitung dzikir".

6 - Dalam kitab Al-Kamil , Al-Mubarrad mengatakan;  “Bahawa ‘Ali bin ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbas ra (wafat th 110 H) mempunyai lima ratus butir biji zaitun. Tiap hari ia menghitung raka’at-raka’at sholat sunnahnya dengan biji itu, sehingga banyak orang yang menyebut namanya dengan ‘Dzu Nafatsat’ ". 



Imam Bukhari rah.

Imam Bukhari
By: Shaykh al-Hadîth `Allâma Ghulâm Rasûl Sa`îdî

After the Sahbah al-kirâm, Imâm al-Bukhârî ranks as the most eminent of those pious people who have conferred endless bliss upon the Ummah of the Holy Prophet sallallâhu `alayhi wa sallam. The greatest evidence of this is the book of Ahâdîth an-Nabawî he compiled, commonly known as Sahîh al-Bukhârî. It is universally acknowledged as the most authentic book after the Holy Qur'ân. So long as their is one Muslim left on the Earth, the blessings of Imâm Bukhârî will have a place in his or her Îmân and Islâm. Let us briefly examine below a short survey of his life and works.

His Early Years

Imâm al-muhaddithîn Hadrat Imâm Abû `Abdullâh Muhammad ibn Ismâ`îl al-Bukhârî was born on the 13th of the Islâmic month of Shawwâl, 194AH, in the famous city of Bukhara, of the land "beyond the canal" - present day Uzbekistan -. The father of Imâm Bukhârî, Ismâ`îl ibn Ibrâhîm ibn Mughîrah al-Ja`fî, was a great muhaddith and ascetic from whom he inherited his characteristics of literary zeal and excellence. During infancy his father passed away and his mother took on the entire responsibility of bringing him up. Imâm Bukhârî became blind at a young age. He had recourse to many famous and skilled doctors of his time but their treatments made no difference. His mother was a pious worshipper and a righteous woman. She cried out for help in the court of Allâh the Almighty, for her child and begged for the restoration of his eyesight. At last, "the river of mercy flowed over her," and Almighty Allâh accepted her invocation. One night, she visited Ibrâhîm `alayhis-salâm in a dream and was told, "Allâh has restored the sight of your son because of your intense and beautiful invocations." In the morning, as Imâm Bukhârî got up from his bed, glimmers of light reached out into his eyes.

Primary Education and  Interest in Hadîth

When Imâm Bukhârî reached the age of ten and after acquiring his elementary education, Almighty Allâh inserted the interest in the science of Ahadîth into his heart and he obtained admission in the Hadîth class of Bukhara. He obtained his educations after vigorous study. A year later, he had such a good retention of the text and chains of transmission of Ahâdîth, that sometimes teachers got their corrections from him. Imâm Bukhârî had been acquiring religious education with competance and swiftness and at the tender age of sixteen, he had completely learnt by heart the books of `Abdullâh ibn al-Mubârak, al-Wakî` and other learned companions of al-Imâm Abû Hanîfa radiyallâhu `anhum.

The Visit to the Haramayn and the Commencement of His Ahâdîth Compilation

At the age of eighteen, He visited Makkah accompanied by his mother and elder brother, Ahmad ibn Ismâ`îl. After performing the pilgrimage, his brother returned with the company of his mother, but Imâm Bukhârî stayed there for further education. Meanwhile, he wrote a book called, Qadâyâ as-Sahâbah wat-Tâbi`în. After this he went to Madînah al-munawwarah to compile the famous book of Asmâ` ar-rijâl (Names of men of   transmission) called, Târîkh al-kabîr, while sitting by the tomb of the Holy Prophet sallallâhu `alayhi wa sallam during moonlight hours. Immediately after completing this, a series of imitations had begun. Muhammad ibn Yûsaf al-Furyâbî said that at the time he had copied Târîkh al-kabîr, Imâm Bukhârî did not yet have any facial hair.

Imâm Bukhârî travelled to cities far and wide for the transmission of Ahâdîth and had gained immense knowledge while sitting far from his own country for several years. He stated himself, "To seek knowledge, I travelled to Egypt and Syria twice, Basra four times, spent six years at the Hijâz and left for Kufa and Baghdad on so many occasions accompanied by Muhaddithîn."

His Remarkable Memory

Imâm Bukhârî was a man with a very strong memory. When we look at his memory, it is as if his body from head to toe stored it. Seeing his memory, the memory of Abû Hurayrah radiyallâhu `anhu is rekindled in the hearts of Muslims. Hashid ibn Ismâ`îl states that in his childhood: "Imâm Bukhârî used to go with us to the Scholars of Basra to listen to Ahâdîth. All of us used to write Ahâdîth down, except Imâm Bukhârî. After sixteen days, we thought about it and we condemned Imâm Bukhârî saying that, 'you had wasted so many days work by not writing down Ahâdîth.' Imâm Bukhârî asked us to bring our notes to him. So we all brought our notes, upon which Imâm Bukhârî began to read Ahâdîth one by one from the top of his head until he narrated to us more than fifteen thousand! Hearing these, it seemed that Imâm Bukhârî was reteaching us all of the Ahâdîth we had noted."

Muhammad ibn Azhar Sajistânî says: "I used to go to Sulaymân ibn Harab accompanied by Imâm Bukhârî for listening to Ahâdîth. I used to write the Ahâdîth, but Imâm Bukhârî wouldn't. Somone said to me, 'Why doesn't Imâm Bukhârî note the Ahâdîth down?' I told him, 'if you missed any Hâdîth in writing, you could obtain it from the memory of Imâm Bukhârî.'"

Imâm Bukhârî's memory could be understood by knowing that if he glanced through a book, it would be committed to memory instantly. In his early period of acquiring knowledge, he memorised seventy thousand Ahâdîth and later in his life, this figure reached three hundred thousand. Of these, one hundred thousand were sahîh (rigorously authenticated) and two hundred thousand were not sahîh (hasan, da`îf, etc). Once he went to Balkh and the inhabitants desired that he should recite one Hadîth from each of his shaykhs. Then he orated from one thousand Shaykhs one thousand Ahâdîth.

Sulaymân ibn Mujâhid says: "One day I was present in the company of Muhammad ibn Salâm Baykandî. Muhammad ibn Salâm said, 'If you had come earlier, I would have shown you the child who has seventy thousand Ahâdîth in his memory.' Sulaymân stood up from his company and started looking for Imâm Bukhârî. Shortly he found him and asked, 'Are you the one who has committed seventy thousand Ahâdîth to memory?' Imâm Bukhârî replied, 'I have learnt more Ahâdîth than this by heart. I even know the place of birth, death and residence of most of those companions from whom the Ahâdîth are narrated."

His Extraordinary Intellect

Along with his extraordinary memory, he also had a very sharp intellect. He did not depend on pen and paper as much as he relied on his mind and memory. People examined the capabilities of Imâm Bukhâri in the science of Hadîth repeatedly but he always remained successful as a result of Allâh's gift of intellegence and superb memory.

Hâfiz Ahmad ibn `Adî describes: "When the people of Baghdad had learnt that Imâm Bukhârî was due to arrive there, the Muhaddithîn of Baghdad decided to test him by changing the text and chains of transmission of one hundred Ahâdîth. They joined the chain of one Hadîth with the text of another and attached the chain of this Hadîth with the text of the prior. Like this, they mixed up the text and chains of transmission of one hundred Ahâdîth and gave these to people who would test Imâm Bukhârî with these.

"When Imâm Bukhâri arrived at Baghdad, the people held a gathering in his honour, in which most of the Ulamâ, nobles and public were present. One person stood up according to the plan and asked a question regarding a Hadîth with its altered chain of transmission. Upon this, a second person stood up and recited in similar manner. Like this, the people completed the hundred Ahâdîth and awaited Imâm Bukhârî's reply. He said that he had not apprehended those Ahâdîth. When he saw that everyone had finished asking questions, he stood up and described the chain of transmission of the first Hadîth read and then gave its correct chain. Like this, he detailed the faulty chains on the Ahâdîth of all one hundred set up by the scholars. He had given the correct chains of transmission to every Hadîth. When he finished, the entire audience was full of praise and recognition of the superiority and greatness of Imâm Bukhârî."

Hâfiz Abul-Azhar relates: "Once four hundred Muhaddithîn had gathered in the city of Samarqand to test Imâm Bukhârî. They did this by mixing up the transmissions of Syria with the transmissions of Iraq and the transmissions of Iraq with the transmissions of Syria. Similarly, they inserted the transmissions of the Haram (Makkah) into the ones of Yemen and vice versa. They did this to Imâm Bukhâri for seven days, but could not mislead him in text or transmission a single time. He had comprehensive knowledge in the science of Hadîth - all of the routes of a Hadîth were in his eyes if one with many chains was found. So Imâm Bukhârî had a good view of all of them. In that age, no one had more command over the different ways of transmission than Imâm Bukhârî."

Yûsuf ibn Mûsâ Marûzî states: "I was sitting in the central mosque of Basra when I heard a voice saying, 'O seeker of knowledge, Imâm Muhammad ibn Ismâ`îl has arrived. Whoever wants to receive Ahâdîth from him should present himself in his company.'" Marûzî says: "I saw a thin, weak young man near the pillar who was praying salât with extreme humbleness and humility and that was Imâm Bukhârî. As soon as the announcement was made, curious people from all directions began to gather around."

Glimpses of his private life

1. Self sufficiency:

The father of Imâm Bukhârî, Muhaddith Ismâ`îl ibn Ibrâhîm was enormously rich and Imâm Bukhârî had inherited a huge share of his wealth. He used to give his wealth on the basis of silent partnership (e.g. if a person is in possession of a shop, the profits are shared equally, but only one partner does all the work). Abû Sa`îd Bakr ibn Munîr states: "Once Abû Hafs sent some goods to Imâm Bukhârî and when traders learnt of this, they came and offered five thousand dirhams. He told them, 'Come in the evening.' A second group of traders came and offered ten thousand dirhams, but he told them, 'I have already made an agreement with someone else. I do not want to change my intention for the sake of ten thousand dirhams.'"

2. Simplicity and humbleness:

From the point of view of his character, Imâm Bukhârî was a simple and hard working person. He would fulfill his own needs by himself. Despite having a lot of wealth and status, he always kept the minimum number of servants required and never indulged himself in this matter. Muhammad ibn Hâtim Warrâq, who was one of his main disciples, says: "Imâm Bukhârî was establishing an inn near the city of Bukhara and was placing the bricks with his own hands. I came forward and said 'Leave the laying of the bricks for this building to me.' But he replied, 'On the day of judgement, this act will be of benefit to me.'"
Warrâq goes on to say: "When we accompanied Imâm Bukhârî on a journey, he would gather us in one room and would stay by himself in a separate room. Once I saw Imâm Bukhârî get up between fifteen and twenty times during the night and every time, he lit the lamp with his own hands. He took some Ahâdîth out, marked them and then placed his head on his pillow and laid on his couch. I said to him, 'Why did you go through all this trouble during the night, when you could have woken me up [so that I could help you].' He replied, 'You are young and are in need of sound sleep and I did not want to disturb your sleep.'"

3. Generosity

Just as he was generous with this wealth, he was also greatly generous with his heart. Sometimes, he would give three thousand dirhams as a donation in one day. Warrâq says that Imâm Bukhârî's earnings were five hundred dirhams per month and he would spend all of it on his students.

4. Abstention (Zuhd)

Imâm Bukhârî kept himself away from all worldly desires and temptations. Sometimes, in his quest for knowledge, he passed his time eating dried grass (hay). Usually he would eat only two or three almonds in a whole day. Once he became ill and the doctors told him, "Your intestines have become dry because you have been eating dried leaves." It was at that moment that Imâm Bukhârî told the doctor that he had been eating dried leaves for forty years and during this span of time he never even touched any kind of curry.

5. Fear of Allâh

He was bestowed with the highest rank of piety and righteousness. He feared Allâh very much inwardly and outwardly. He prevented himself from backbiting and suspicion and always respected the rights of others. Bakr ibn Munîr relates that Imâm Bukhârî said, "I am hopeful that when I meet my Lord, He will not take account of me because I never backbited."

Imâm Bukhârî was so vigilant in his worship, that he would pray Nawâfil and keep fasts in abundance. He would complete the recitation of the whole Qur'ân daily in the month of Ramadân and also recited ten chapters of the Holy Qur'ân deep in the night. He would complete the Holy Qur'ân in the Tarâwîh prayers and always reciting twenty verses in each rak`at. He was very courteous, tolerant and gentle. He never became angry if mistreated by other persons and prayed forgiveness for those who attributed evil to him. If he needed to correct any person, he would never embarrass him in public.

His Arrival in Nîshâpûr and the issue of the creation of the Qur'ân

In 250 AH, Imâm Bukhârî decided to go to Nîshâpûr. After hearing this news, a wave of happiness spread among its people. In those times, Muhammad ibn Yahya adh-Dhuhlî was the head of the literary kingdom of Nîshâpûr. He advised and led the inhabitants of the city to gather together for the welcoming of Imâm Bukhârî. A huge crowd went to the outskirts of the city to receive Imâm Bukhârî, with extreme magnificence and honour. Imâm Muslim ibn Hajjâj says that in all his life, he had never seen such a reception ever given to a scholar or even a ruler.

Imâm Bukhârî began to deliver lectures on Hadîth in Nîshâpûr. At every session, a huge crowd always packed the area to listen and many included people who had arrived specifically to learn the science of Hadîth. However, some unpleasant people were envious about the reputation and popularity of Imâm Bukhârî. These people set up Muhammad ibn Yahya adh-Dhuhlî to become his opponent. In this incident, Muhammad ibn Yahya considered the pronunciation of the Qur'ân as eternal and was firmly rooted with this concept.

Once, a man approached Imâm Bukhârî and asked him whether the Qur'ân was created (makhlûq) or not created (ghayr makhlûq). Imâm Bukhârî paused for a while. The man insisted on a reply, upon which he was told, "The Qur'ân are the words of Allâh and they are not created (ghayr makhlûq)." The man posed some more questions about the words of the Qur'ân, upon which Imâm Bukhârî said, "Our actions are created and the pronunciation is one our actions."

[Comment by G.F. Haddad: The above is inaccurately translated. It should read: "Muhammad ibn
Yahya considered the *pronunciation* of the Qur'ân as eternal..." and "Imâm Bukhârî said, 'Our actions are created and the pronunciation is one our actions.'" 

The disagreement was only over the pronunciation (lafz) of the Qur'an, not the words of the Qur'an, although lafz also means "wording." Al-Dhuhli and other people close to the Hanbali madhhab considered that the pronunciation is uncreated just like the Qur'an itself. Others, like Bukhari and Muslim, also al-Karabisi the companion of al-Shafi`i and others considered the pronunciation created since it is part of one's acts and acts are certainly created. There was no disagreement that the words of the Qur'an are not created since they are what is meant when we say that the Qur'an is Allah's Speech.

What possibly reconciles the different views on this subject is that lafz is used by some to mean the revealed, uncreated words and contents of recitation, while others mean thereby the mere act of pronunciation, which is created; hence the extreme caution shown by some, such as Imam al-Bukhari, who fell short of saying: "Lafz is created" even though he used it in the second sense, since he said: "Lafz is an act of human beings, and our acts are created." This lexical ambiguity is a proof of sorts that the differences on this particular question were largely in terminology rather than essence. Added to this is a fundamental difference in method around the appropriateness of such dialectic (kalam), which poisoned the air with unnecessary condemnations on the part of Imam Ahmad's followers - and Allah knows best.]

After this, mass propaganda started against Imâm Bukhârî, which led to accusations that he believed the words of the Qur'ân to be created. When Dhuhlî heard these rumours, he disconnected his ties with Imâm Bukhârî and became his foe. He started warning people by announcing that they should not attend the lectures of Imâm Bukhârî. As a result, people refrained from sitting in his lectures, except Muslim ibn Hajjâj. At last, due to his disappointment, Imâm Bukhârî left the city of Nîshâpûr and returned to Bukhara.1

Banishment from his homeland

When the people of Bukhara learnt that Imâm Bukhârî was coming back to his homeland, they became extremely overjoyed and erected tents many miles outside the city to welcome him. They greeted him with splendour for his return. He established a school there where he spent a great deal of time teaching with satisfaction.

Even here, there were envious people who did not leave him alone. They met the governor of Bukhara, who was a representative of the Khilâfat `Abasiyya, Khâlid ibn Ahmad. They told him to call Imâm Bukhârî to his house and busy him with teaching his son. When the governor put this suggestion to Imâm Bukhârî, he was told, "I do not want to abuse knowledge and carry it to the footstep of the rulers. If anybody wants to learn, they should come to my school." The governor replied, by stating, "If my son was to attend your school, he should not sit with ordinary people. You would have to teach him separately." Imâm Bukhârî answered, "I cannot stop any person from hearing Ahâdîth." Upon hearing this, the governer of Bukhara became angry with him and got a fatwa (verdict) from the time wasting opportunist (ibn al-waqt) `Ulamâ against Imâm Bukhârî to banish him from the city.

Imâm Bukhârî was distressed at the thought of being banished from his homeland. Not even a month passed, before the Khalîf of Baghdad dismissed the governor of Bukhara, Khâlid ibn Ahmad adh-Dhuhlî. The governor was expelled from his palace in extreme disgrace and dishonour, being mounted on a she-ass and then thrown into prison, where he died in a space of a few days. Similarly, all the supporters of the governor also died in disgraceful ways.

His passing 
After returning from Bukhara, Imâm Bukhârî decided to travel to Samarqand. He was still many miles from the city, when he heard that the people there had two veiws about him. So he decided to stay at a village along the way called "Kharteng". Here, he made the following invocation one night after the late-night prayer: "O Allâh, the Earth despite its grandeur is becoming narrow and is troubling me greatly. So take me back to You." After this invocation, he became ill. Meanwhile, the people of Samarqand sent a messenger to bring him there. Bukhârî got up and was ready to travel, but his strength gave way. He began to invoke Allâh at length, then he took to his bed and his soul passed away to his Lord - may Allâh have mercy on him. An indescribable amount of perspiration came out of him even after he consigned his life to the Creator of life. When this abated, he was shrouded. He died on the night of `Îd al-Fitr, the first night of Shawwâl in the year 256 AH. He had reached the age of 62 years, less twelve days. On this night, the sun of great knowledge, virtue and blessings had set, whose knowledge and actions had enlightened the hearts and minds of the great intellects and people of Samarqand, Bukhara, Baghdad and Nîshâpûr.

His acceptance by Allah's Messenger sallallâhu `alayhi wa sallam 
Imâm Bukhârî devoted his entire life, in the search for the way of life given by the Holy Prophet sallallâhu `alayhi wa sallam, in acting upon his sayings and researching into this science. His each and every action was a fragment of the way of the Messenger. Warrâq stated: "In a dream, I once saw Imâm Bukhârî walking behind the Prophet sallallâhu `alayhi wa sallam and his feet would fall exactly where the feet of the blessed Prophet had fallen."

Farbarî stated: "Once in a dream, I met the Holy Prophet sallallâhu `alayhi wa sallam and he asked me, 'Where are you going?' I replied, 'To Muhammad ibn Ismâ`îl [al-Bukhârî].' He then said, 'Go, and give him my salâm.'"

Just as the Holy Prophet sallallâhu `alayhi wa sallam had happiness with Imâm Bukhârî during his lifetime, he was also pleased with him after his death. Concerning this, `Abd al-Wâhid ibn Âdam Awaysî stated: "I saw the Holy Prophet sallallâhu `alayhi wa sallam in my sleep standing with a group of his Companions. I asked, 'O Prophet sallallâhu `alayhi wa sallam, who are you waiting for?' He replied, 'For Bukhârî.' After a few days I heard the news of Imâm Bukhârî's passing away. He had died at the very moment that I saw the Prophet sallallâhu `alayhi wa sallam in my dream." 

The Janâzah prayer was performed over Imâm Bukhârî and his body was covered with soil. A beautiful musk smell exuded from the earth of his grave which lasted for several days. 
Abul-Fath as-Samarqandî relates: "two hundred years after the death of Imâm Bukhârî, a drought struck Samarqand. The people made the istisqâ' prayer and invocations but rain did not fall. A saintly man came to the judge (Qâdî) of the city and gave him some advice. He said: 'With the people of the city, go to the grave of Imâm Bukhârî and invoke Allâh the Exalted there to give you rain. Perhaps Allâh will accept our invocations and give us rain.' The judge of the city accepted this advice with delight and proceeded to go to the grave. The people followed him and upon arrival, he prayed for rain in front of them at the grave. People wept and also sought the intercession of the one who was in the grave. At that moment, clouds gathered and Allâh sent such heavy rain that those who were in Kharteng could not reach Samarqand for seven days because of the rain's abundance.


Imâm Bukhârî was not only a scholar, worshipper, a devotee and a prosperous man, but he always feared Allâh and shone with the love of the Messenger sallallâhu `alayhi wa sallam. The virtuous outpourings he gave to the world during his life are still being given today and as the Muslim Ummah goes about its daily acts of worship, they realise how important the role played by Imâm Bukhârî was. He compiled and circulated the Ahâdîth of the Prophet wherever possible and Allâh spread his status to every corner of the world. It is a fact that as long as the traditions of the Holy Prophet sallallâhu `alayhi wa sallam (qîla and qâla) are mentioned in gatherings, lights and blessings will shower onto the grave of Imâm al-Bukhârî from the skies of the Most Merciful.

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