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Abbasid History Podcast

Jun 28, 2021

Considered by Sunni Muslims as the second most authentic book after the Quran, Muḥammad ibn Ismā‘īl al-Bukhārī's collection of the Prophet's sayings and traditions, or ḥadīth, holds an esteemed station in Sunni scholasticism.

To discuss with me the life, works and legacy of al-Bukhari is Dr. Jonathan Brown. Dr. Brown is the Alwaleed bin Talal Chair of Islamic Civilization in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. His PhD title and first book was "The Canonization of al-Bukhari and Muslim: the Formation and Function of the Sunni Hadith Canon". 


Al-Bukhari was born 810CE in present day Uzbekistan almost 60 years after the Abbasid revolution and just after the passing of the fabled caliph Hārūn al-Rashīd and the start of the Fourth Fitna civil war between his two sons, al-Amīn and al-Ma`mūn. What do we know about his socio-political and cultural context and what impact would it have on his formation as a scholar?

Al-Bukhari travelled extensively to collect ḥadīth including to the Levant and Egypt and died in 870CE in his country of birth. Give our listeners an overview of his life before we look at his works and legacy.

Al-Bukhari is best known for his Ṣaḥīḥ collection. Before we look at that in detail, described to us his other works.

There has been continued doubts cast on how authentic are the traditions recorded in al-Bukharī's work. What are broader consideration and premises that should be borne in mind when trying to reconcile these views and where should listeners go next to learn more about al-Bukhari and his works?

You are the author of "Misquoting Muhammad:
The Challenges and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet’s Legacy", "Slavery and Islam" and other works. What are other current projects that listeners can anticipate?

We are sponsored by IHRC bookshop. Listeners get a 15% discount on all purchases. Visit IHRC bookshop at and use discount code AHP15 at checkout. Terms and conditions apply. Contact IHRC bookshop for details.

We are also sponsored by Turath Publishing. Buy now An Introduction to Sahih al-Bukhari by Mustafa al-Azami. Listeners get a 15% discount on all purchases. Visit Turath Publishing at and use discount code POD15 at checkout. Terms and conditions apply. Contact Turath Publishing for details.

Al-Ismāʿīlī died 371/981 and it was Abū Sufyān who asked the Prophet to marry Umm Ḥabībaḧ.