The necropolis of the outstanding Sunni theologian Imam Al Bukhari is located near Samarkand, 25 km north of the city in Khoja Ismail village. In the 16th century, a small mausoleum was built above the tomb of Imam al-Bukhari. Beside it a mosque was constructed. Presently, the whole Muslim world lives by his hadithas, while in his native land, the precepts of al-Bukhari have been made into law. His name emerged only when a well-known Lebanese writer in 1958, having visited the USSR, reported that he wanted to visit the tomb of a well-known seminary student. His request caused alarm among Communist Party officials. The inquiry was made to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan, and from there - to the Academy of sciences. Day and night they searched for the tomb of Al Bukhari, and finally located it near Samarkand, close by barely perceptible ruins of an ancient village.
In connection with the 1225th - anniversary of Imam al-Bukhari, according to the decision of the government of Uzbekistan, a new memorial complex was built in 1998 on the location of the old mausoleum. The modern memorial complex consists of a mausoleum, mosque, office building and other structures around the courtyard. The mausoleum complex comprises an impressive gateway, a large courtyard with manicured lawns and flowerbeds, prayers rooms and a water tank, and a minaret. This is in addition, of course, to the tomb itself, which is covered by a blue dome raised upon marble pillars.
The height of the mausoleum dome is 17 m. The walls are decorated with light green, blue, and white glazed tiles, marble, onyx and granite. In the center of the mausoleum is a tombstone coated with light blue onyx. The symbolic tomb (the real tomb is in fact buried beneath the floor, as is the case in the Gur-i Amir in Samarkand) is made of highly polished marble. The inscription on the accompanying gravestone, engraved in Arabic, describes Al-Bukhari's life.
Four-century old palm trees have been preserved in the yard. Behind the mausoleum is an educational center for hadith study. On the left side of the yard is a mosque for 1500 believers to pray simultaneously.
The mausoleum complex is an active religious centre, though non-Muslims are welcome to visit providing they are appropriately dressed (women must cover their heads) and ask permission at the entrance. There is no entrance fee, though you may be asked to make a small donation towards the upkeep of the shrine.
Al-Bukhari was born in Bukhara in ad810, and at the age of 16 he embarked upon his life's work: scouring the Islamic world for Hadith, the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad. Over the next 16 years, Al-Bukhari collected some 600,000 sayings. The resulting book ran to 97 volumes.
Muhammad ibn Isma`il al-Bukhari al-Ju`fi was born after the Jumu`ah prayer on Friday, 13 Shawwal 194 AH (19 July 810) in the city of Bukhara in Khorasan (in present-day Uzbekistan). His father, Isma`il ibn Ibrahim, a scholar of hadith, was a student and associate of Imam Malik. Some Iraqi scholars related hadith narrations from him.
Bukhari's great-grandfather, al-Mughirah, settled in Bukhara after accepting Islam at the hands of Bukhara's governor, Yaman al-Ju`fi. As was the custom, he became a mawla of Yaman, and his family continued to carry the nisbah of "al-Ju`fi".
Al-Mughirah's father, Bardizbah, is the last known ancestor of Bukhari according to most scholars and historians. He was a Magian and died as such. As-Subki is the only scholar to name Bardizbah's father, who he says was named Bazzabah. Little is known of Bardizbah or Bazzabah, except that they were Persian and followed the religion of their people.
Historians have also not come across any information on Bukhari's grandfather, Ibrahim ibn al-Mughirah.
Hadith studies and travels
The historian al-Dhahabi described his early academic life:
He began studying hadith in the year 205 (A.H.). He memorized the works of [‘Abdullah] ibn al-Mubaarak while still a child. He was raised by his mother because his father died when he was an infant. He traveled with his mother and brother in the year 210 after having heard the narrations of his region. He began authoring books and narrating hadith while still an adolescent. He said, “When I turned eighteen years old, I began writing about the Companions and the Followers and their statements. This was during the time of ‘Ubaid Allah ibn Musa (one of his teachers). At that time I also authored a book of history at the grave of the Prophet at night during a full moon.
At age of sixteen, he, together with his brother and widowed mother made the pilgrimage to Makkah. From there he made a series of travels in order to increase his knowledge of hadith. He went through all the important centres of Islamic learning of his time, talked to scholars and exchanged information on hadith. It is said that he heard from over 1,000 men, and learned over 700,000 traditions.
After sixteen years' absence he returned to Bukhara, and there drew up his al-Jami' as-Sahih, a collection of 7,275 tested traditions, arranged in chapters so as to afford bases for a complete system of jurisprudence without the use of speculative law.
His book is highly regarded among Sunni Muslims, and considered the second most authentic collection of hadith behind The Muwatta (a minority of Sunni scholars also consider Sahih Muslim, compiled by Bukhari's student Imam Muslim, more authentic). Most Sunni scholars consider it third only to the Qur'an in terms of authenticity. He also composed other books, including al-Adab al-Mufrad, which is a collection of hadiths on ethics and manners, as well as two books containing biographies of hadith narrators.
In the year 864/250, he settled in Nishapur. It was in Neysha-bu-r that he met Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj. He would be considered his student, and eventually collector and organiser of hadith collection Sahih Muslim which is considered second only to that of al-Bukhari. Political problems led him to move to Khartank, a village near Samarkand where he died in the year 870/256.