Abū ʿAbdullāh Muḥammad ibn Ismāʿīl ibn Ibrāhīm ibn al-Mughīrah ibn Bardizbah al-Bukhārī was a Persian scholar who was born in Bukhara (present-day Uzbekistan) after the jumuʿah prayer on Friday, Shawwāl 13, 194 AH (July 810 CE).
During his formative years, Imām al-Bukhārī developed the zeal to memorize aḥādīth and began attending the gatherings of contemporary ḥadīth scholars (muḥaddithūn) such as Imām al-Dākhalī.
At the age of 16, Imām al-Bukhārī began a series of journeys to collect aḥādīth. His first quest was to the province of Ḥijāz, in modern-day Saudi Arabia. After residing in Ḥijāz for six years, he traveled to several Islamic countries, including Iraq, Egypt, Syria and Persia. He visited Baṣrah four times and also Kūfah and Baghdād on a number of occasions. From these trips, he collected aḥādīth from a total of 1,080 muḥaddithūn.
Once Imām al-Bukhārī was attending a class of the famous Shaykh, Is′ḥāq ibn Rāhway. During the gathering, one person shared an idea with the students of knowledge, “I really wish you people would put together a short book about the practices of Allāh’s Prophet (peace be upon him)!” Imām al-Bukhārī later recalled, “This comment hit my heart!”
Later, Imām al-Bukhārī had a vivid dream in which he stood face to face with Allāh’s beloved Messenger (peace be upon him). The imam could clearly see flies hovering above the Prophet’s head, so he waved a fan to scatter them away. The next day, he consulted dream interpreters, who informed him that he was going to purify the aḥādīth from all the lies and fabrications that had crept into them. This dream only motivated the imam further.
Thus, in the year 217 AH (9th century CE), at the age of 23, Imām al-Bukhārī began preparing the Jāmiʿ after having traveled many lands to collect aḥādīth. With the help of Allāh, he completed this work in 16 years. From about 600,000 aḥādīth he had compiled from his various teachers, Imām al-Bukhārī carefully selected a final total of 7,563 aḥādīth for his book by carefully scrutinizing the transmission chains. This authentic aḥādīth represent about 1% of his initial collection.
May Allāh continue to shower his infinite mercy upon the soul of Imām al-Bukhārī till the final day.