In Hadeeth terminology, one may hear a term, al-Ummuhaat as-Sitt ( الأمهات الست) which is used to describe the six main collections of Hadeeth. They are (in order of overall authenticity):
1. “Saheeh al-Bukhaaree”
2. “Saheeh Muslim”
3. “Sunan an-Nasaaee”
4. “Sunan Abu Daawood”
5. “Sunan at-Tirmithee”
6. “Sunan Ibn Maajah”
*1. “Saheeh al-Bukhaaree”*
This book was given the title: “al’Jaami’ as-Saheeh” by its author. In it, he recorded six hundred thousand Hadeeth and he exerted great effort in revising them, editing them, and scrutinizing them to determine their authenticity. He was so concerned that he would not place any Hadeeth within his collection without first washing and praying two units of prayer seeking Allaah’s guidance in the decision to include it. He did not include any report or narration unless it was authentically reported from the Messenger of Allaah ﷺ with a clear, connected chain of narrators, all known for their trustworthiness and preciseness.
He completed his work over a span of sixteen years. After which, he presented it to Imaam Ahmad, Yahyaa Ibn Ma’een, ‘Alee Ibn al-Madeenee, and others. They admired it and approved of it and attested to its authenticity.
Since then, scholars of every time period have accepted this collection of Hadeeth. al-Haafith ath- Thahabee said, “It is the best and most significant book in Islaam after the Book of Allaah ﷻ .”
This collection consists of seven thousand, three-hundred ninety-seven (7,397) Hadeeth including the ones that are repeated, yet placed in different chapters. Excluding the repeated Hadeeth, there are two thousand, six hundred two (2,602) individual Hadeeth as al-Haafith Ibn Hajar pointed out.
He is Abu ‘Abdullaah Muhammad Ibn Ismaa’eel Ibn Ibraaheem Ibn al-Mugheerah Ibn Bardizbah al-Ja’fee, originally of Persian origin.
He was born in Bukhaaraa (in present-day Uzbekistan) in the month of Shawwaal (the 10th month of the Islaamic calendar) in the year 194 Hijrah. He was raised as an orphan (without his father) in the care of his mother. He began traveling throughout different lands, seeking out Hadeeth in the year 210. He resided for six years in various lands including ash-Shaam (the lands of Palestine, Syria, Jordan, etc.), Egypt, the Arabian Peninsula, Basra, Koofah, and Baghdad (all three in Iraaq). He was very proficient in memorizing and it was even said that he was able to memorize a book after seeing it only once. He was one who abstained from useless worldly things. He was pious and did not mix much with the kings, princes, or leaders. Yet, he was brave and generous. Scholars of his time and thereafter have praised him. Imaam Ahmad said of him, “No one even close to him has ever come from (the land of) Khuraasaan.” Ibn Khuzaymah said, “There is no one under the sky more knowledgeable of Hadeeth of Allaah’s Messengerﷺ , nor one having memorized more than Muhammad Ibn Ismaa’eel al-Bukhaaree.” He was also diligent in deducing rulings and had an amazing ability to derive rulings and benefits from Hadeeth as can be witnessed from the manner in which he organized his authentic collection.
He died in a place known as Khartank near Samarqand (in Uzbekistan) on the night of ‘Eed al-Fitr (the Islaamic holiday to conclude fasting in the month of Ramadhaan) in the year 256 Hijrah. He was thirteen days away from the age of sixty-two years old. He left an enormous amount of knowledge behind in his writings. May Allaah have mercy upon him an reward him on behalf of his contribution to the Muslims.