Imam Al-Bukhari RA
Imam Al-Haafidh Muhammad Ibn Isma`il Al-Bukhari RA ranks as one of those pious Muslims that conferred endless bliss on the Ummah of Sayyidunaa Rasoolullah SAW, after the Noble Sahaabah RA. Imam Al-Bukhari RA was born on the 13th Shawwaal 194 AH, in the city of Bukhara, in present day Uzbekistan. His father, Imam Isma`il Ibn Ibrahim Ibn Mughirah Al-Ja`fi RA was a great scholar of hadeeth and an ascetic, from whom he inherited his characteristics of literary zeal and excellence. During his infancy, his father passed away and his mother took up the responsibility of nurturing him.
Imam Al-Bukhari RA became blind at a young age, and none of the skilled doctors at that time could render him any treatment. His mother was a very pious woman and she implored Allah SWT to restore his eyesight. Allah SWT accepted her invocations and soon afterwards, he was fully cured.
When Imam Al-Bukhari RA had reached the age of ten, and after receiving his elementary education, Allah SWT instilled into his heart the affection to learn hadeeth. He was admitted into the hadeeth class in Bukhara and obtained his education after vigorous study. A year later, he had acquired excellent retentions in the chains of transmission and texts of hadeeth, so that sometimes teachers would be corrected by him. At the age of sixteen, he had learnt by heart the books of Imam `Abdullah Ibn Al-Mubarak RA, Imam Al-Wakee` RA and other blessed companions of Imam Abu Hanifah RA.
When he was eighteen, he visited Makkah Al-Mukarramah with his mother and elder brother, Ahmad Ibn Isma`il. After completing the pilgrimage, he remained there to further his education. It was there that he wrote “Qadaayah As-Sahaabah RA Wat Tabi`een RA”, (the religious matters of the Noble Companions RA and those who followed them). After this, he went to Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah, where he compiled his famous book “Asmaa Ar-Rijaal”, (names of narrators of hadeeth), called “At-Tareekh Al-Kabeer”, (the major history), while sitting at the blessed tomb of Sayyidunaa Rasoolullah SAW.
Imam Al-Bukhari RA travelled to cities far and wide for the sake of seeking knowledge and the transmission of hadeeth. In these various areas, he gained immense knowledge while sitting far away from his own home for several years. He himself stated: “To seek knowledge, I travelled to Egypt and Syria twice, Basra four times, spent six years at Al-Hijaaz and left for Kufa and Baghdad on so many occasions accompanied by scholars of hadeeth.”
Imam Al-Bukhari RA had a very strong memory, so much so, that if he glanced through a book, he would memorise it instantly. In his early years of study, he memorised 70 000 hadeeth, and later on this number increased to 300 000. Along with this, Allah SWT also gifted him with an exceptional sharp intellect.
Some of his exemplary qualities were that he was self sufficient; he did not depend on anyone but Allah SWT. He was a simple and hard working person, and he would fulfil his needs by himself. Muhammad Ibn Haatim Al-Warraaq, who was one of his main disciples, states: “Imam Al-Bukhari RA 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.” He was a man of overwhelming generosity, abstention from this world and the fear of Allah SWT.
Imam Al-Bukhari RA passed away at the age of 62, on the first night of Shawwaal (the night of `Idul Fitr), in the year 256 AH. May Allah SWT reward him abundantly for his sterling and unmatched work for Islam.
Imam Muslim RA
Imam Abul Husain Asaakirud Deen Muslim Ibn Al-Hajjaaj Al-Qushayri An-Naysaaboori RA was from the Qushayr tribe of the Arabs. He was born in the year 206 AH in Naysaaboor. His parents were pious and religious, and as such, he was brought up in an Islamic atmosphere. This left such a lasting impression on his mind that he spent the whole of his life as a God-fearing person and always adhered to the path of Truth. His excellent moral character and etiquette can be well judged from the simple fact that he never indulged in backbiting, a very common human flaw.
Imam Muslim RA travelled widely to collect traditions in Hijaaz, Egypt, Syria and Iraq; where he attended the lectures of some of the prominent scholars of hadeeth of his time, including Imam Ishaaq Ibn Rahawiyyah RA, Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal RA and Imam Qutaybah Ibn Sa`eed RA. After completing his studies, he settled at Naysaaboor. There he came into contact of Imam Al-Bukhari RA. He became a true disciple of Imam Al-Bukhari RA and remained attached to him until the end of his blessed life.
Imam Muslim devoted his life to studying hadeeth, and he collected 300 000, and then after thoroughly examining them, he chose 4000 for his Saheeh.
He wrote many books and treatises on Hadeeth, but his most famous is his “Saheeh”. His books include: “Kitab Al-Musnad Al-Kabeer Alaa Ar-Rijaal”, (the book of major chain of transmission regarding narrators) and “Kitab Al-Asmaa Wal Kuna, (the book of names and titles of narrators).
Imam Muslim RA had a wide circle of students who learnt at his hands. They include Imam Abu Haatim Razi RA and Imam Abu `Isa At-Tirmithi RA.
Imam Muslim spent most of his life in learning hadeeth, teaching it, in its transmission and compilation. He passed away in the year 261 AH and is buried in Naysaaboor.