Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Advice of Imam Bukhari

The post below is not from one of Shaykh's lessons but is an article based on extracts from ‘The Differences of the Imams’ by Shaykh ul Hadeeth Maulana Muhammad Zakariyya. It is an amazing incident attributed to lmam Bukhari (may Allah have mercy upon him). It enlightens one on the diligence required to become a seeker of hadeeth let alone a Muhaddith or Shaykh.

This is an amazing incident attributed to lmam Bukhari (may Allah have mercy upon him). It will enlighten the reader on the diligence required to become a seeker of hadeeth let alone a Muhaddith or Shaykh.

Muhammad bin Ahmad says: “When Waleed bin lbraheem was deposed as the chief justice of Ray (the name of a particular area) and he came to Bukhara, my teacher, Abu lbraheem al Khatakli took me with him to see Waleed. My teacher requested him to narrate those ahadeeth to me which he had heard from his Mashaa’ikh. He replied: “I have heard nothing from them.” My teacher was quite shocked and remarked: “How can you say that you have heard nothing from them when you are a deeply-read scholar?” He then related his story saying: “When I became a sane, mature adult and I developed fervour towards the science of hadeeth, I went to lmam Bukhari (may Allah have mercy upon him) and explained my intentions to him. He advised me thus:

“Son! before you set out to pursue any field make sure you are well grounded with its prerequisites and demands, and remember that a person cannot become a perfect Muhaddith in the science of hadeeth until and unless he does not write four things alongside four things like four things resembling four things in four times with four conditions in four places upon four things from four types of people for four objectives. These aims (each numbering four) can only be achieved with another four things coupled with another four. Once all these things are achieved, four things will become insignificant before him and he will be inflicted with four things. Once he exercises patience upon these four things, Allah ta‘ala will honour him with four things in this world and award him four things in the hereafter.”

I said: “May Allah have mercy upon you! Please explain these aims (each numbering four) to me.”
He said: “Surely, the four things he has to write are:

(1) The statements and commands of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم
(2) The sayings of the Sahabah رضى الله عنهم and their relative ranks,
(3) The sayings of the Tabi’een and their ranks, (in other words who is reliable and who is not),
(4) The conditions of all the narrators who narrate ahadeeth.

Alongside the above are the following four:
(1) The actual names of the narrators,
(2) Their appellations or titles,
(3) Their domiciles,
(4) Their dates of birth and death (to determine whether the narrator met those he is narrating from.)

These are indispensable like four things are necessary with four:
(1) Like hamd and thanaa (praise of Allah) are with the Khutbah,
(2) Like salutations are with name of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace)
(3) Like the recitation of Bismillah is with a surah,
(4) Like the performance of salaah with the takbeer.

Resembling four things as follows:
(1) Musnadaat,
(2) Mursalaat,
(3) Mawqoofaat and
(4) Maqtoo’aat.
(These are names of the four categories of hadeeth).

In four times is as follows:
(1) In his childhood,
(2) In his age of understanding, (i.e. close to maturity)
(3) In his youth and
(4) In his old age.
(In other words he continues acquiring hadeeth throughout his life).

In the four conditions is as follows:
(1) Whilst he is occupied,
(2) Whilst he is free,
(3) In his poverty and
(4) In his affluence.
(In other words he is always endeavouring to acquire the knowledge of hadeeth).

At four places as follows:
(1) In mountainous terrain,
(2) On the seas,
(3) In cities and
(4) In rural areas.
(In other words he endeavours to acquire this science from a teacher no matter where he is).

Upon four things (he writes the knowledge of hadeeth):
(1) Upon stones,
(2) Upon shells,
(3) Upon skins and
(4) Upon bones.
(In other words, until he does not find paper he will continue recording this knowledge somewhere so that he does not forget it).

From four types of people are as follows:
(1) From his seniors,
(2) From his juniors,
(3) From his counterparts and
(4) From the books of his father, provided he has firm conviction that these are his books.
(In other words, he endeavours to acquire this science one way or the other, so much so that he does not feel ashamed to acquire it from his juniors).

For four objectives as follows:
(1) He acquires this knowledge solely for the pleasure of Allah.
(2) To practice upon those ahadeeth which conform to the verses of the Holy Qur’an.
(3) To propagate it to those who have desire for it.
(4) To write it out so that it can be a source of guidance to those who will come after him.

The aforementioned four things cannot be acquired except with four things which are of human acquisition:
(1) To know how to read and write,
(2) Lexicography and vocabulary,
(3) Morphology and
(4) Syntax.

Together with these are another four that are not of human acquisition but gifts from Allah:
(1) Sound health,
(2) Ability,
(3) An ardent desire for learning and
(4) A good memory.

Once all the aforementioned aims are attained, four things will become insignificant before him:
(1) His family,
(2) His children,
(3) His wealth and
(4) His motherland.

Thereafter, he is afflicted with four things:
(1) His enemies will rejoice at his distress,
(2) His friends will reproach him,
(3) The ignorant will taunt him and
(4) The scholars will be jealous of him.

Once he exercises patience on these calamities, Allah will honour him four things in this world and four things in the hereafter.
The four in this world are:
(1) The honour of contentment,
(2) Dignity and awe coupled with conviction,
(3) The pleasure of knowledge and
(4) A life of eternity.

The four in the hereafter are:
(1) The honour of intercession on behalf of whomsoever he pleases.
(2) The shade of the throne of Allah on the day when there shall be no shade available except the shade of His throne,
(3) He will provide water to whomsoever he pleases from the well of Kauthar of the Prophet e and
(4) The close proximity with the Prophets (upon whom be peace) in the A ‘ala Illiyeen.

So now my son! I have told you whatever I have heard from my Mashaa’ikh, now you have the choice either to pursue this field or to refrain from it.

These are the rules and regulations lmam Bukhari has laid out for every individual who wishes to become a Muhaddith or a student of hadeeth. We should take heed of lmam Bukhari’s advice and hold firmly onto it. In actual fact, the science of hadeeth is even more difficult than what lmam Bukhari (may Allah have mercy upon him) describes. In our present time of extreme negligence and laziness where the maximum extent of this science is the Saheeh-Sittah (the six most authentic books of hadeeth), for one to call himself a Muhaddith can be likened to a monkey who has a bit of turmeric powder and wishes to be called a grocer. The extent this group of half-baked ‘Maulvies’ have made a mockery of Deen cannot be found in our predecessors even if we have to search for it. The main cause for this current degeneration amongst the Ulama stems from our confidence upon our virtues and our reliance upon our defective and unsound knowledge. In fact the latter Ulama have prohibited us from issuing any Fatwas (religious verdicts) based on our own opinions. Instead, they have advised us to transcribe the verdicts from similar Fatwas of the past. But alas! In these times, let alone ordinary propositions, even the most intricate of scholastic issues have become subjected to the people’s whims and fancies. To Allah alone do we seek refuge and He alone is the Helper.