Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī is a ḥadīth collection from the Kutub al-Sittah (six canonical ḥadīth collections), authored by Muḥammad ibn Ismāʿīl al-Bukhārī رحمه الله (d. 256).
His father, Ismā`īl, was a well-known and famous muḥaddith in his time and had been blessed with the chance of being in the company of Imām Mālik, Hammād Ibn Zaid and also ʿAbdullāh Ibn Mubārak رحمهم الله.
Imām al-Bukhārī رحمه الله was born on the day of Jumuʿah the 13th of Shawwāl 194 A.H. His father passed away in his childhood. At the age of sixteen after having memorised the compiled books of Imām Wakīʿ and ʿAbdullāh Ibn Mubārak رحمهما الله, he performed Ḥajj with his elder brother and mother. After the completion of Ḥajj he remained in Makkah for a further two years and upon reaching the age of eighteen headed for Madīnah, compiling the books “Qadhāyas-Sahābah wa at-Tābi’īn” and “Tārikh al-Kabīr.” Imām al-Bukhārī رحمه الله also travelled to other key centres of Arabia in search of knowledge like Syria, Egypt, Kufa, Basra, and Baghdad.
Imām al-Bukhārī رحمه الله first started listening and learning ahādīth in 205 A.H., after benefiting from the ʿulamā of his town he started his travels in 210 A.H. His memory was considered to be one of a kind; after listening to a ḥadīth he would repeat it from memory. It has been known that in his childhood he had memorised 2,000 ahādīth.
There are a number of books compiled by Imām al-Bukhārī رحمه الله. This Ṣaḥīḥ is regarded as the highest authority of the collection of ḥadīth. He named this book “Al-Jāmi` al-Musnad as-Ṣaḥīḥ al-Mukhtasar min Umuri Rasūlullāhi صلى الله عليه و سلم wa Sunanihī wa Ayyāmihi.” After he finished, he showed the manuscript to his teachers Imām Ahmad ibn Hanbal رحمه الله for approval, along with Ibn al-Madinī, and lastly Ibn Ma`īn, رحمهما الله. It has also been recorded that it took Imām al-Bukhārī a period of 16 years to gather the ahādīth and to write the Ṣaḥīḥ, which sets the date back to 217 A.H. as the year in which he started the compilation; Imām al-Bukhārī رحمه الله being merely 23 years of age.
Before he actually placed a ḥadīth in his compilation he performed ghusl and prayed two raka`ah nafl prayers asking Allāh for guidance. He finalised each ḥadīth in the rawdah of Masjid an-Nabawi صلى الله عليه و سلم (between the Prophet’s grave and his, صلى الله عليه وسلم, minbar) and wrote the hadīth in the masjid. Only after being completely satisfied with a hadīth did he give it a place in his collection.
Imām an-Nawawi رحمه الله relates that all scholars in Islām have agreed that Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī has gained the status of being the most authentic book after the Qur’ān. It consists of 7,563 ahādith including those ahādith which have been repeated. Without repetitions however, the total number of hadith is around 2,600.