Imam Bukhari Criticizes Imam Abu Hanifah: An Analysis
By Pir Syed Mushtaq 'Ali Shah
Translated by Ebrahim Saifuddin
This claim is a matter of much bravery and courage because no such saying of Imam Bukhari رحمة اللہ علیه can be presented to back up this claim. This claim is but the result of jealousy, malice and enmity where whatever the heart desires is said. What can one call this if not a result of malice?
Hafidh Ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz Ibn Abi Rawwaad رحمة اللہ علیه spoke the truth with sagacity which was noted down by Ibn Hajar Makki رحمة اللہ علیه in Khayraatul Hisaan pg.35:
“Hafidh Ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz Ibn Abi Rawwaad said that whosoever loves Imam Abu Hanifah is a Sunni and whoever has malice in his heart for him does Bid’ah. It is stated in a narration that Imam Abu Hanifah is between us and the people of the past. Thus whosoever loves him is from the People of Sunnah and whosoever has malice against him is from the People of Innovation.”
Some Ghair Muqallideen (people who refuse to follow one of the 4 established schools of Law) lead the common man astray by saying that Imam Bukhari رحمة اللہ علیه has written in his book Kitab al-Du’afaa: “(Imam Abu Hanifah) was a Murjee' and the people adopted silence from narrating from him.”
In reply to this I say that firstly the book 'al-Du’afaa' by Imam Bukhari رحمة اللہ علیه, published in Agra Allahabad, does not contain any such sentence. The same is not found in Adab al-Mufrad, Juzul Qira’ah and Khalqul ‘Ibad either. Even if it is taken to be true, the reply is that Imam Bukhari رحمة اللہ علیه had enmity of mathhab towards Imam Abu Hanifah رحمة اللہ علیه which is apparent in the writings of Imam Bukhari رحمة اللہ علیه. Thus this jarh cannot be accepted on the basis of enmity of mathhab. That is why Thahabi, Ibn Hajar, Wasiuddin Khizaji and others رحمة اللہ علیھم did not give any importance to this Jarh and did not even mention it by considering it “لا یعبا به”.
Secondly, regarding the saying that Imam Abu Hanifah رحمة اللہ علیه was a Murjee', the meaning has to be established. If by Murjee' those were referred on whom be Allah’s Curse, then this is absolutely wrong because it is stated in Fiqh al-Akbar:
“We do not say like the Murjee'ah that it is for certain that our good deeds are accepted and sins are forgiven. We say that whosoever does good deeds with all the right conditions, provided he does not make them void and dies in the state of Iman, then Allah will not let go his good deeds to waste and will reward him accordingly by accepting his deeds.”
It is stated in Khayrat al-Hisaan, pg 73, it is stated:
“The Commentator of al-Mawaqif mentions that Ghisaan Murjee' used to say things so that it would seem that Imam Abu Hanifah was a Murjee' and he used to include Imam Abu Hanifah in the Murjee'ah sect. Ghisaan deliberately accused Imam Abu Hanifah to legitimize his mathhab.
Shehristani, in al-Milal wal Nihal, has said that it is astonishing how Ghisaan used to attribute the teachings of his Murjeea'h sect to Imam Abu Hanifah and would call him a Murjee'ah. He has lied.”
And if by Murjee'ah it is meant Murjee'ah Marhoomah then all of Ahl al-Sunnah wal Jama’ah is included in it. It is mentioned in al-Tamheed of Abu Shakoor Salimi:
“There are two types of Murjee'ah. One is Murjee'ah Marhoomah and it is the Companions of Rasulullah. The second is Murjee'ah Mal’oonah and these are those who say that sins do not matter and there is no punishment for them. ‘Uthman bin Abi Laila once wrote a letter to Imam Abu Hanifah asking if he is from the Murjee'ah. Imam Abu Hanifah replied that there are two types of Murjee'ah. One is Murjeeah Mal’oonah and I am not from them. The other is Murjee'ah Marhoomah and I am from them. In fact, the Anbiya علیھم السلام were also the same. Do you not know the saying of ‘Isa علیه السلام, ‘If You (Allah) punish them, they are Your slaves after all, but if You forgive them, You are the Mighty, the Wise.’
Thus it is learnt that Imam Bukhari’s رحمة اللہ علیه saying regarding people not accepting the Hadith and opinion of Imam Abu Hanifah رحمة اللہ علیه is absolutely false and baseless.
Thirdly, in ‘Uqud al-Jawahir al-Manifa, the book of Hafidh Mosuli, al-Du’afaa is quoted to state:
“Yahya bin Ma’een has said, ‘I have not found anyone superior to Waki’ and he used to give fatwa on the qawl of Abu Hanifah and would memorize all his Ahadith. He heard a lot of Ahadith from Abu Hanifah.’”
And it is stated in Manaqib Kurdi, pg 100: “Sa’eed bin Yahya bin Humayri Wasti was an Imam and Hafidh of Hadith from Wasta. He has narrated from Imam Abu Hanifah and has acquired knowledge from him. He used to say that Imam Abu Hanifah is an ocean of knowledge.”
And in the same Manaqib on pg 19 it is stated:
“’Abdullah bin Yazeed al-Muqri Makki heard 900 Hadith from Imam Abu Hanifah.”
In Khayrat al-Hisaan, pg 23, it is stated:
“Ibn al-Mubarak said, ‘He (Abu Hanifah) used to be the one with most knowledge in Fiqh, and I have not seen anyone more knowledgeable than him in Fiqh. . . .And he is the most knowledgeable amongst them (Imam Malik and Sufyan) and a better Muhaqqiq and Mudaqqiq.’”
“Abu Yusuf al-Thawri says, ‘I follow Imam Abu Hanifah in majority of issues.’”
“Yahya bin Sa’eed Qattan says, ‘We have not heard an opinion better than that of Imam Abu Hanifah and thus we give fatwa on his qawl.’”
“Ibn al-Mubarak says, ‘I have seen Mis'ar ask questions and benefit from the study circles of Imam Abu Hanifah.’”
In Khayrat al-Hisaan, pg 26, it is stated by Ibn Jarir رحمة اللہ علیه:
“The second chapter is regarding those who acquired Hadith and Fiqh from Abu Hanifah and to assess their number is impossible.”
“This is the reason why some ‘Ulema state that amongst the A’immah of Islam, no one has as many students as Imam Abu Hanifah.”
Look at this with justice and without any bias. Waki’, Ibn Yahya al-Wasti, Ibn al-Mubarak, Sufyan al-Thawri, Mis'ar bin Kudam, Yahya bin Sa’eed al-Qattan and others have spoken so highly about the Fiqh and Opinion of Imam Abu Hanifah رحمة اللہ علیه. Thousands have acquired Hadith and Fiqh from Abu Hanifah رحمة اللہ علیه and have become famous by his blessing in the world.
As is seen in Manaqib al-Kurdari and Manqib Mawafiq of Ibn Ahmad al-Makki.
Despite of this, Imam Bukhari رحمة اللہ علیه says,
“سکتوا عن رأيه و حدیثا”
If this is not out of malice due to Mathhab then what is it?
Fourthly, If, according to Imam Bukhari رحمة اللہ علیه, a narrator should be left and nothing should be taken from him if he is a Murjee', then due to what reason did Imam Bukhari رحمة اللہ علیه include in his Sahih, Ahadith from deviant sects like Murjee'ah, Nasibiyah, Kharijiyah, Shi’a, Jahmiyah, Qadariyah and others? Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, in Muqaddamah Fath al-Bari, has written this in detail name by name. Over here we will mention the total number of people from four of these deviant sects.
Then according to the standards of Ghair Muqallideen, does Sahih Bukhari not become the weakest of all books?
Now that the topic of the narrators of Bukhari has been touched, it is only appropriate to talk about some of these narrators. The world knows that Sahih Bukhari has been accepted as ‘Asahhul Kutub’ unanimously (which means that as a collection it has collectively more sahih ahadith; this does not mean that each and every hadith of Bukhari is most authentic when compared to other ahadith found in different collections). It is without any doubt that Imam Bukhari رحمة اللہ علیه has put in a lot of effort in it which is worthy of much praise. May Allah (swt) accept his effort.
However, it has many narrators on whom different types of Jarh have been done. Examples are given below:
(a) Kathhab: Extreme liar
(b) Yakthibul Hadith: Lies in matters of Hadith
(c) Yasriqul Hadith: Steals Hadith
(d) Yadha’ul Hadith: Invents Hadith
It is seen that the highest form of Jarh is also included. Fathul Bari and Meezanul I’tidaal can be referred for more details. They list more than 100 such narrators.
Despite these Jarh, Imam Bukhari did not consider these narrators among those from whom Hadith should not be taken. Instead, he accepted Ahadith from them. And despite this, other Muhadditheen did not deny Sahih Bukhari to be Asahhul Kutub.
Then what is the reason apart from Mathhabi malice that Imam Bukhari رحمة اللہ علیه did not take from Imam Abu Hanifah رحمة اللہ علیه although no Jarh can be done on him according to the principles of this science?
Thus when this malice is established by clear evidence then what weight can the Jarh of Imam Bukhari رحمة اللہ علیه have in regards to Imam Abu Hanifah رحمة اللہ علیه?
Fifthly, if the Hadith of narrators, on whom Imam Bukhari رحمة اللہ علیه has done Jarh, is to be rejected then there are many such narrators taken by Imams Muslim, Nasa`i, Tirmidhi, Abu Dawood and others رحمة اللہ علیھم who should be rejected according to this rule. But the Muhadditheen did not consider such narrators as rejected. Then why should Imam Abu Hanifah رحمة اللہ علیه be rejected due to the Jarh of Imam Bukhari رحمة اللہ علیه?
In ‘Kitab al-Du’afa’, Imam Bukhari رحمة اللہ علیه has said that 'Uways Qarni’s sanad is doubtful (فی اسنادہ نظر) and this Jarh, according to the rules of Bukhari, is a serious one. However, 'Uways Qarni cannot be considered to be Majruh (disparaged).
Sixthly, if Imam Bukhari رحمة اللہ علیه relied on his own Jarh, then he would not have narrated from narrators on whom he has done Jarh. There are many such narrators in Bukhari whom Imam Bukhari رحمة اللہ علیه has declared Majruh. Such narrators are listed below:
1. Usayd bin Zayd al-Jalal – Imam Dhahabi رحمة اللہ علیه has mentioned in al-Meezan, “It is strange that Imam Bukhari has taken narrations from this narrator in his Sahih and has also mentioned him in al-Du’afaa.”
2. ‘Ayyub bin ‘Aa’id – Imam Bukhari رحمة اللہ علیه has mentioned in his book al-Du’afaa, “He used to prefer the beliefs of Murjee'ah despite being truthful.
3. Thabit bin Muhammad – Imam Dhahabi رحمة اللہ علیه has stated, “Although Imam Bukhari has narrated from this narrator, he has included him in his al-Du’afaa.”
4. Zuhayr bin Muhammad – Imam Bukhari رحمة اللہ علیه has said in his al-Dhu’afa, “People of Shaam have narrated Munkaraat from him.”
5. Ziyad bin Rasigh – Imam Bukhari رحمة اللہ علیه said his sanad is doubtful as is also found in al-Meezan.
6. ‘Ataa Ibn Maimoona – Imam Bukhari رحمة اللہ علیه mentioned in his al-Du’afaa, “He used to like the beliefs of Qadariyyah.” And it is mentioned in the Muqaddama of Fathul Bari that many narrators were inclined towards Qadariyyah e.g. Hams bin Minhala. Imam Dhahabi رحمة اللہ علیه has said that he has been accused of being a Qadariyyah and he has Munkar Hadith and that is why Imam Bukhari رحمة اللہ علیه has included him in al-Du’afaa.
Look at this from an unbiased perspective. If Imam Bukhari رحمة اللہ علیه trusted his own Jarh, then why did he narrate from these people? When Imam Bukhari himself does not trust his own Jarh, then it is strange that the Muqallideen of Bukhari trust his Jarh and call Imam Abu Hanifah رحمة اللہ علیه weak in Hadith.
Seventhly, if near those who object, the Jarh of Imam Bukhari رحمة اللہ علیه, despite being inaccurate and against ‘usuls, is valid in the case of Imam Abu Hanifah رحمة اللہ علیه, then why would Imam Bukhari رحمة اللہ علیه not be Majruh and rejected?
Is Jarh on Imam Bukhari رحمة اللہ علیه not established by A’imma of Hadith?
Of course they are.
Some of them are listed below:
1. Imam Dhuhli رحمة اللہ علیه, the teacher of Imam Bukhari رحمة اللہ علیه, has done serious Jarh on him. In Tabqat al-Shafi’iyyah, Vol.12, pg 12, it is stated, “Imam Dhuhli said, ‘He who visits the study circle of Imam Bukhari should not come to us as the people of Baghdad have written to us that Imam Bukhari does kalam in the case of the words of the Qur’an (being created or uncreated) and we told him not to do so. However, he did not listen. Thus do not go to him.’”
Note that not only did Imam Dhuhli رحمة اللہ علیه tell people not to visit Imam Bukhari رحمة اللہ علیه but also said that he is an innovator who thinks that the words of the Qur’an, coming out of his mouth are words of the creation. Neither should anyone sit with him nor talk to him. This warning of Imam Dhuhli رحمة اللہ علیه had such a huge impact on people that many stopped meeting Imam Bukhari.
In Tarikh Ibn Khallikaan, Vol.2 pg 123, it is stated, “When a difference arose between Imam Bukhari and Muhammad bin Yahya regarding the words of the Qur’an, he stopped people from going to Bukhari. So much so that Imam Bukhari was compelled to migrate from Nishapur and, apart from Imam Muslim, many people boycotted him.”
2. Imam Muslim رحمة اللہ علیه, despite his closeness to Imam Bukhari, has not narrated a single Hadith from him in his Sahih Muslim. In fact, in the discussion of “’an’ana” Hadith, he has referred to Imam Bukhari رحمة اللہ علیه with the word “’asawna” (which means he opposes him in this matter) and has severely criticized him. For reference see Muslim Vol. 1, pg 21.
3. Abu Zur’ah and Abu Hatim رحمة اللہ علیھما have not taken from Imam Bukhari رحمة اللہ علیه either. In Tabqaat al-Shafi’iyyah, Vol.1 pg 190, it is mentioned, “Abu Zur’ah and Abu Hatim have left Imam Bukhari because of the difference in the case of the Words of the Qur’an.”
In Meezanul I’tidaal it is stated, “. . . .Abu Zur’ah and Abu Hatim did not narrate from the Imam Bukhari, the student of ‘Ali Ibn al-Madini, because of the dispute regarding the Words of the Qur’an.”
And `Abdur Rahman Ibn Abi Hatim رحمة اللہ علیه says, “Abu Zur’ah left Imam Bukhari due to this reason.”
4. Ibn Mandah رحمة اللہ علیه has categorized Imam Bukhari رحمة اللہ علیه amongst the Mudalliseen (such a narrator who conceals the name of his Shaykh or the Shaykh of his Shaykh) in Shuruutul A’immah. Thus he stated, “Bukhari has narrated in his books in these ways: ‘I said to fulan (an unnamed person)’ which is permitted, and ‘Fulan has said this,’ and this is Tadlees.”
It is obvious that Tadlees is a greater defect when compared to weak memory as it is a voluntary act and there is fraud and deception in it. That is why Shamsi has said, “Tadlees is Haram near the A’immah.” (Muqaddama Usul al-Shaykh al-Muhaddith al-Dehlawi ‘alal Mishkat, pg 2)
Please note, Imam Bukhari رحمة اللہ علیه has narrated about 30 Ahadith from Imam Dhuhli رحمة اللہ علیه but has not mentioned the name with which he was famous because there was strict aggression between Imam Bukhari رحمة اللہ علیه and Imam Dhuhli رحمة اللہ علیه. In Tareekh Ibn Khallikan vol.2 pg 134, it is stated, “Imam Bukhari narrated from Imam Dhuhli in 30 places and has not mentioned his name anywhere. He should have said, ‘Muhammad bin Yahya Dhuhli narrated to me’ but instead said ‘Muhammad narrated to me.’ And in some places he has mentioned him as Muhammad bin ‘Abdullah’ (‘Abdullah was the name of his grandfather) and in some places he attributed it to his great grandfather.”
5. Darqutni and Hakim رحمة اللہ علیھما have said that Imam Bukhari’s رحمة اللہ علیه narrating Hadith from Ishaq bin Muhammad bin Ismail has been considered to be something with defect. In Muqaddama Fathul Bari pg 451 it is stated, “Darqutni and Hakim said that there is an allegation on Bukhari in narration of Hadith.”
Darqutni and Hakim رحمة اللہ علیھما mean that Ishaq bin Muhammad has been considered trustworthy by Bukhari whereas he is weak. He could not differentiate between Thiqah and Da’eef. And Isma’il رحمة اللہ علیه has shown astonishment that Imam Bukhari رحمة اللہ علیه considers the Munqata’ narration of Abu Salih Juhani as Sahih but considers Mutassil as Da’eef. It is written in Muqaddama Fathul Bari pg 483, “Ismail accused Bukhari and was surprised that why does Bukhari consider the Ahadith of Abu Salih Juhani as evidence when it is not Muttassil.”
He added, “It is more astonishing that Bukhari considers Munqata’ Hadith as authority and Mutassil as Da’eef.”
6. Thahabi رحمة اللہ علیه has also shown bewilderment on some of his works. He writes in the biography of Usayd bin Zayd al-Jamal, “It is astonishing that Bukhari considers him to be Da’eef yet narrates from him.” What can one say about the memory of a person who considers a narrator as weak and yet narrates from him in Asahhul Kutub!
Those who object should do some justice. If Imam Abu Hanifah رحمة اللہ علیه is weak due to the Jarh of Imam Bukhari رحمة اللہ علیه then why would Imam Bukhari رحمة اللہ علیه not be Majruh on the basis of the Jarh of Ibn Mandah رحمة اللہ علیه and Dhuhli رحمة اللہ علیه?
7. By the yardstick used by those who object (on Imam Abu Hanifah رحمة اللہ علیه), Imam Bukhari himself is proven to be Majruh. Thus what effect can the Jarh of a Majruh have on Imam Abu Hanifah رحمة اللہ علیه?
It is sad that Ghair Muqallideen attack Imam Abu Hanifah رحمة اللہ علیه due to mere jealousy and do not realize that they live in glass houses. If Imam Abu Hanifah رحمة اللہ علیه will be called Da’eef, then all the Muhaditheen of the world will become Da’eef and rejected in matters of Hadith.
Note: It should be clear that these Jarh have been noted down just to answer the opponents. This is just how Mawlana Shah ‘Abdul ‘Aziz Muhaddith Dehlawi, in his book “Tohfa” has adopted an offensive position (as opposed to defensive) against Shi’a. Otherwise, in truth, our Aqeedah is that Imam Abu Hanifah رحمة اللہ علیه and Imam Bukhari رحمة اللہ علیه are trustworthy, truthful, just, with strong memory and devout worshippers (of Allah). None of them is Majruh. And Hadith narrated by them is accepted. The reasons due to which we do not accept the Jarh on Imam Bukhari رحمة اللہ علیه are the same due to which we do not accept the Jarh on Imam Abu Hanifa.
Wa Salamu 'Alaykum.