Was Imam Al Bukhari a hadith rejecter? Studies show he rejected 99% of the hadith that he came into contact with.
“And of the people is he who buys vain hadith to mislead from the way of Allah without the knowledge and who takes it in ridicule. Those will have a humiliating punishment.” (Qur’an 31:6)
As the above text indicates just as their are vain hadith there are hadith that are not vain. It was up to hadith specialist to be diligent in shifting the wheat from the chaff. The documented Sunnah known as also as ‘hadith’ assist us as Muslims to follow the Sunnah of the Blessed Messenger (saw) as instructed: “You have a good model in the Messenger of Allah for one who hopes for Allah and the Last Day.” (Qur’an 33:21)
“Say: if you love Allah, follow me and Allah will love you.” (Qur’an 3:31) “Verily, We have revealed the Reminder (Qur’an to you O Muhammed) so that you may explain to people what has been revealed to them.” (Qur’an 16:64)
What should be important to note is that Imam Al Bukhari (may Allah have mercy on him) was not a known rejecter of the Sunnah of the Blessed Messenger (saw). He simply had very strict criteria for accepting a hadith.
Al Dhahabi said:
“It has been narrated through two firm channels of transmission that Al-Bukhari said: ‘I extracted this book from 600,000 hadiths, and I compiled it over sixteen years, and I made it a plea for what lies between myself and Allah.”
Source: (Narrated by al-Khatib, al-Jami’ li-Akhlaq alrawi 2:270-271 1613) *
Imam Al Nawawi said, “The totality of its hadiths are 7,275 with the repetitions and about 4,000 without.” *
*Source: (Volume 1 Hadith History & Principles-Gibril Fouad Haddad pg 105)
Dear readers, you do the math? I came up with a figure of .66% as I took the number of 4,000 ahadith without repetitions. What is 4,000 hadith from 600,000? Even if you take the higher number of 7,275 hadiths with repetitions what percentage does this work out to?
Am I mistaken? This means he rejected 99% of the hadiths that he came into contact with! If this is not an eye-opener for you dear readers than I don’t know what would be.
You can quickly verify this information through the following as well.
The historical facts…
Sahih Al-Bukhari is regarded by a vast majority of the Muslims as the most authoritative collection of the Blessed Prophetic Sayings and Deeds – in the form of written text it is called Hadiths.
Quoted below are two sources, written by learned Muslim scholars, that give details for the origin of Sahih Al-Bukhari, compiled by Imam Bukhari (died 256 A.H.). These source documents also tell us that hundreds of thousands of unreliable narrations were rejected by Bukhari.
The Muslim community has since then profusely complimented his great efforts. Circulation of the True Reports amalgamated along with the False Reports, attributed to the Blessed Prophet (saw.), this was not tolerated then and should not be tolerated now, if the bottom line is to propagate the Whole Truth, on behalf of the beloved Prophet.
The figures recorded below show that Imam Bukhari had rejected more than 99% of the circulating Hadeeths that were memorized by the learned scholars and respected Imams of his own era and of his predecessors.
“Sahih Bukhari is a collection of sayings and deeds of Prophet Muhammed (saw), also known as the sunnah. The reports of the Prophet’s sayings and deeds are called ahadith. Bukhari lived a couple of centuries after the Prophet’s death and worked extremely hard to collect his ahadith. Each report in his collection was checked for compatibility with the Qur’an, and the veracity of the chain of reporters had to be painstakingly established. Bukhari’s collection is recognized by the overwhelming majority of the Muslim world to be one of the most authentic collections of the Sunnah of the Prophet (saw). Bukhari (full name Abu Abdullah Muhammad bin Ismail bin Ibrahim bin al-Mughira al-Ja’fai) was born in 194 A.H. and died in 256 A.H. His collection of hadith is considered second to none. He spent sixteen years compiling it and ended up with 2,602 hadith (9,082 with repetition). His criteria for acceptance into the collection were amongst the most stringent of all the scholars of ahadith. It is important to realize, however, that Bukhari’s collection is not complete: there are other scholars who worked as Bukhari did and collected other authentic reports.” *
* Source: (The Translation of the Meanings of Sahih Al-Bukhari’ by Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan, pg 4)
You can find the source for this here: http://islamtheonlytruereligion.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/translation-of-sahih-al-bukhari.pdf
Did you notice the very careful wording of the author above? “one of the most authentic collections“; however he did not say infallible without a doubt.
Notice he also says, “His collection of hadith is considered second to none“; however he did not say that it was beyond reproach.
“In time the Prophet’s sayings and actions—hadith, traditions—came to be accepted as the truth by Muslims. The problem lay in locating a genuine hadith. It is said Imam Hanbal narrated one million. Al Ghazzali earned his title hujjatal-Islam, the authority of Islam, by memorizing 300,000. The accepted authority, Imam Bukhari, after a lifetime’s work, selected about 7,300 from 600,000 in 97 books. Collecting hadith became an Islamic science.” *
* Source: (Discovering Islam’ by Dr. Akbar S. Ahmed, page 24).
The percentage of rejection…
If one was to work out the percentage of the rejection by Imam Bukhari from the above-recorded figures, one would be shocked and taken aback having arrived at the staggering high figures for the elimination. One can say that 99.27% of what Imam Hanbal had memorized was not included by Imam Bukhari; 97.57% of what Al-Ghazzali had memorized and 98.78% of what he himself had earlier memorized. These figures of the rejections would rise even further if one was to work them on the bases of the accepted 2,230 Hadeeths without repetition.
Respectively in the same order, the new percentage figures for the rejections would be 99.998%; 99.993%, and 99.996%.
Imam Bukhari has never been criticized or accused of being a rejecter of Hadeeth – Munkar-e-Hadeeth, for rejecting the unreliable narrations. His efforts are being proudly complimented. The reality is that Imam Bukhari earned his reputation by his strict rules and accepting only a fraction of the percentage out of the million(!) in circulation. His diligent work of “rejection” is erroneously heightened by a few, to a degree of that of an infallible person.
Now the question is what makes everyone so certain that this compilation is 100% authentic? Given the fact that Imam Bukhari (May Allah have mercy on him) had a rejection rate of 99% for the ahadith, he came in contact with?
“Surely in that are signs for a people who reflect” (Qur’an 13:3)
“Do not cloak Truth with falsehood nor hide the Truth while you realize it.” (Qur’an 2:42)