IMAM AL-A’ZAM ABU HANĪFAH’S (RAHIMAHULLAH) GREAT CONTRIBUTION TOWARDS SAHIH BUKHĀRĪ
Many people won’t tell you the fact that the Hanafi scholars have greatly contributed towards Imam Bukhari’s Sahih.
Amongst the copious virtues of Bukhari is that it has 22 ‘ثلاثيات’ ahādīth. A ثلاثي hādīth is that narration where there’s only 3 narrators between Imam Bukhari and our beloved Prophet ﷺ. This is what makes the chain of the narration very strong. There’s 22 like this in Bukhari, which are the cream of the book.
From these 22, 11 ثلاثيات Imam Bukhari narrates from Imam Makki Bin Ibrahīm Balkhi (d. 215 Hijri).
All the great Muhaddithūn, Imam Ahmed bin Hanbal, Imam Nasa’ī, and Imam Ibn Ma’een, have agreed upon his authenticity. (See Tazkirah Al-Huffaz, volume 1 page 268).
One of his teachers in hādīth was Imam Abu Hanifah. Imam al-Dhahabi has mentioned his 6 main teachers in hadith, of which one of them is Imam Abu Hanifah (Tazkirah volume 1 page 268).
Imam Muwaffaq bin Ahmed Makki (d. 568 Hijri) has mentioned in his Manaqib of Imam Abu Hanīfa:
هو مكي بن ابراهيم البلخي، امام بلخ، دخل كوفة سنة أربعين ومائة ولزم ابا حنيفة وسمع منه الحديث والفقه
وأكثر عنه الرواية
“He, Makki bin Ibrahim al-Balkhi, Imām of Balkh, entered Kufa in the year 140 Hijri. He stayed in the company of Abu Hanīfah and learnt hādīth and fiqh from him, and he excessively narrated hādīth from him (Abu Hanifah)” (page 179).
Imam Makki bin Ibrahim lived a long life, and was also amongst the greatest teachers of Imam Bukhari. Hence, Imam al-Dhahabi has mentioned:
“He lived over 90 years and he was from the greatest teachers of Bukhari”.
وهو من كبار شيوخ البخاري.. العبر ج ١ ص٢٩٠
Rather, it was because of Imam Abu Hanifah’s encouragement that Makki bin Ibrahim began to seek knowledge and learn hādīth. That’s why Imam Makki bin Ibrahim states, himself:
فلا ازال ادعو لأبي حنيفة في دبر كل صلوة وعندما ذكرته لان الله تعالى ببركته فتح لي باب العلم.
“I always make supplication for Abu Hanīfah after every salah and when I remember him, because Allah Almighty through his (Abu Hanifah) blessing, opened the door of knowledge for me.” (Manaqib of Abu Hanīfah by Makki, page 179).
Due to the fact that he was the student of Imam Abu Hanīfah, he adhered to his school and was a very strong Hanafi.
وكان يحب ابا حنيفة حبا شديدا ويتعصب لمذهبه
“He greatly loved Abu Hanīfa and was fanatical towards his school” (Manaqib of Abu Hanīfa by Makki, page 179).
Some might criticise the above text saying that he was an extreme Hanafi, or biased. However, the point here is that it is clear that he was a Hanafi.
So, the net result is:
1. Half of Imam Bukhari’s ثلاثيات (which is the cream of Bukhari) is from his great HANAFI teacher
2. Amongst Imam Bukhari’s greatest teachers of hādīth, he became what he became because of Imam Abu Hanifah
3. Imam Bukhari’s great teacher learnt hādīth from Imam Abu Hanifah
4. Imam Bukhari’s great teacher was encouraged to learn hādīth by Imam Abu Hanifah;
5. Imam Bukhari’s great teacher in hādīth would pray for Imam Abu Hanifah after every salah and whenever he would mention him
6. Imam Bukhari’s great teacher acknowledges that it was due to the Barakah of Imam Abu Hanifah that Allah opened the door of knowledge (hādīth, fiqh etc) for him.
The question is, if the teacher of Imam Bukhari, who is the pride of Bukhari, is such a great Muhaddith, and whose ثلاثيات is the cream of Bukhari, one must wonder how his teacher was.
P.S. Here are the references for the 11 places in Bukhari where Imam Bukhari has taken his ثلاثيات from Imam Makki Bin Ibrahim:
Hadith number 109, 497, 502, 561, 2007, 2289, 2960, 3041, 4206, 5497 and 6891.
– (Shaykh) Mohammad Yasir al-Hanafi