We all know Imam Bukhari’s status as a scholar of hadith. Unquestionably, he is among the best scholars of hadith. This contributed heavily to his ability to produce a book like Saheeh Al-Bukhari.
What is less well known about Imam Bukhari, though, are his other two specialities: aqeedah (which we will inshaAllah discuss another time), and fiqh. Imam Bukhari, rahimahullah, was a master of fiqh, and a mujtahid.
Additionally, Imam Bukhari assumes that any reader of his book will be at least a hafidh of Qur’an. For example, in his book of tafseer, he mentions things which, at their apparent level, do not have anything to do with the surah he links it to. This is because he wrote it understanding that you can zip backward and forward through the Qur’an, because you’ve memorized it. And in doing so, you should be able to more easily grasp the references.
This plays into the average Muslim, today, reading Saheeh Al-Bukhari. You may run into ahadith which seem curious, strange, or perhaps appear to be downright incorrect.
Don’t despair. Again, Sahih Bukhari was intended for students of knowledge and scholars. When in doubt, speak to your local imam to clear up any misunderstandings you may have. Study the explanation of Saheeh Al-Bukhari; Ibn Hajar’s is excellent (albeit unavailable in English).
All of this, put together, means something: it’s hard to just read ahadith in Bukhari and grasp them. Especially when it comes to fiqh, it can be tricky or confusing; you can’t just read it and start applying the hadith.
What should we do?
For sure, there are some books in Bukhari that are easy to read and understand, and highly beneficial, even for non-scholars. That is, books that are easy for us laypeople to read without much background information.
Which books does Shaykh Yasir recommend?
- Book 81: To Make the Heart Soft (Du’a, Heart Softeners) (كتاب الرقاق): Read this first. A very nice book of reminders to tenderize hearts.
- Book 59: The Beginning of Creation (كتاب بدء الخلق): Narrations about the beginning of creation, the creation of the universe, and more topics along these lines.
- Book 60: Prophets (كتاب أحاديث الأنبياء): Stories and details and biographies about the lives of the prophets, may Allah be pleased with all of them, from Adam to Rasulullah.
- Book 61-64: Seerah: Various topics ranging from the lineage of rasulullah to his companions, to seerah and battles he participated in.
- Book 78: Good Manners and Conduct (كتاب الأدب): How to deal with others; how to have good khuluq, something which is very praiseworthy and comes with a very high reward in the Hereafter.
May Allah allow us all to understand, appreciate, and benefit from this great scholar and his works (ameen).
- Collector’s Edition: Sahih al-Bukhari. By Yasir Qadhi. 2012.