Imaam Bukhari travelled for many years in the pursuit of knowledge and benefitted from the company of the greatest scholars of that time. For long periods of time he used to seclude himself away from people to write all that he learned… This book Sahih Bukhari is just one of his long list of books… How did he manage to write so much?
Obviously if you want extraordinary achievements then you cannot have them while enjoying the pleasures of ordinary lives… a great deal of sacrifice is required… not just of time and money but also of your physical and social needs and desires. Thus we see that Imaam Bukhari lived a very simple life…eating the most simple food, sleeping very little… spending the greater portion of his nights in worship and reading or writing.
The lesson which I learnt from this is that there is a delight in living a life of Allah consciousness and the first and foremost ingredient of such a life is the acquisition of knowledge… therefore Allah has placed a unique kind of joy in this process of becoming aware of him and his religion… but this enjoyment can be felt only when we give up our indulgence in food and rest and socializing. Because if our taste buds are always on fire for the worldly stuff then we cannot taste that deliciousness of knowledge which is a gift only for those who sacrifice their comfort and luxuries for its sake.
The other great quality of Imaam Bukhari was that he had great respect and care for the masjids. An incident has been recorded in which he was sitting in a masjid and one of his companions removed a piece of straw from his beard and blew it away… The Imaam kept looking at the piece of straw where it had landed on the ground and then picked it up on the way out and disposed it on the side saying that what didn’t look nice in my beard, shouldn’t spoil the place of worship too.
This incident makes me ashamed when I visualize the state of the masjids today. We are all ready to criticize but how many of us would stop to pick up and remove one piece of straw? One tissue paper? Caring is not in just criticizing but in making amends…
The other thing which I learned about this great scholar is that he was free from arrogance and had great respect for people. This caused him to be extremely careful when he had to criticize anyone or point out some flaw. He has written in one of his books that I have never done backbiting and I am sure that on the day of judgement Allah will not hold me accountable for it… how is that possible? It is possible only when you realize the magnitude of this sin and so you refrain from talking about people unless absolutely necessary.
He was not just careful about people but also had great respect for their things. At one point he was practicing archery when one of his arrows hit the post of a nearby bridge… he was so concerned about the damage it had caused that he at once contacted the owner of the bridge and offered to compensate for it financially… Apart from the lesson of honesty and responsibility which we derive from this incident the question also arises why was he busy in this activity when he had devoted his life to seeking knowledge? The answer is that it was his aim to act on every hadith before narrating it to others… and at that point he was acting on the hadith about the benefits of learning and teaching the skill of archery…
(to be continued)