Fatḥ al-Bārī sharh al-Bukhārī (‘Victory of the Creator: Commentary on Bukhārī)’ by Shaykh al-Islām Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalānī is widely considered to be the finest commentary on the greatest book of hadith. The initiation of its English translation is a seminal moment which we hope will represent a major contribution to a new wave of Islamic classics in English to meet the needs of Muslim communities in the English-speaking world and also the growing interest on the part of non-Muslims.
Together with the Majestic Qur’ān, Hadiths– the recorded words, actions, approvals and disapprovals of the Prophet ﷺ, – are the main sources of Islamic law and doctrine. Hadiths were evaluated through a rigorous selection process and were compiled in collections in book form of which Imam al-Bukhārī’s al-Jāmi‘ al-Ṣaḥīḥ is considered the greatest.
Over the centuries, hundreds of commentaries have been written on the Ṣaḥīḥ of al-Bukhārī. None, however, have received the same degree of acclaim and critical approval as the Fatḥ al-Bārī of Ibn Ḥajar al-‘Asqalānī (d. 852/1449). This critically important work has retained its immense status and popularity over six centuries since it was completed, as is evident from the many editions available in Arabic today. The main reason for which is the tremendous breadth and depth of the author’s erudition, and the acuteness of his insights and judgement as are evident on every page, can be said to have set a new standard in Hadith scholarship.
Not a single complete commentary of any major Hadith work has ever been published in English, yet the need for them has never been greater than it is today. Hadith studies have suffered from widespread misrepresentation by orientalist scholarship along with the reductionist tendencies of many modernist ‘self-made’ scholars with no traditional training or qualifications freely propagating their own opinions and fatwas, now pose a real threat to the future centrality and stability of the mainstream traditional Islam of Ahl al-Sunna wa al-Jamā‘a especially in the West.
ABOUT THIS EDITION:
This is an immense publishing project, it is hoped that a new volume will be added every few months; the total number of volumes will be in the region of twenty.
At present about one-third of the entire work has been translated.
This volume includes biographical entries for Imam al-Bukhārī and Ibn Hajar, from classical works by al-Sakhāwī and al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī’s, as well as Ibn Ḥajar’s Hādi al-sārī, whose partial translation includes an introduction to Fatḥ al-Bārī, as well as a biography of Imam Bukhārī. This leads to the commentary of Books 1, 2 and 3 of Sahih al-Bukhari.
ABOUT IMAM IBN HAJAR AL-'ASQALANI:
His name was Al-Hafidh Shihab al-Din Abu'l-Fadl Ahmad ibn Ali ibn Muhammad, better known as Ibn Hajar due to the fame of his forefathers, al-Asqalani due to his family origin, born 18 February 1372 – 2 February 1449, 852 A.H., was a medieval Shafi'i Sunni scholar of Islam who represents the entire realm of the Sunni world in the field of Hadith, also known as Shaykh al Islam. He authored some 50 works on hadith, history, biography, tafsir, poetry, and Shafi'i jurisprudence, the most valued of which being his commentary of the Sahih of Bukhari, titled Fath al-Bari.
He was born in Cairo in 1372, the son of the Shafi'i scholar and poet Nur al-Din 'Ali. Both of his parents died in his infancy, and he and his sister, Sitt al-Rakb, became wards of his father's first wife's brother, Zaki al-Din al-Kharrubi, who enrolled Ibn Hajar in Quranic studies when he was five years old. Here he excelled, learning Surah Maryam in a single day and memorising the entire Qur'an by the age of 9. He progressed to the memorization of texts such as the abridged version of Ibn al-Hajib's work on the foundations of fiqh.
When he accompanied al-Kharrubi to Mecca at the age of 12, he was considered competent to lead the Tarawih prayers during Ramadan. When his guardian died in 1386, Ibn Hajar's education in Egypt was entrusted to hadith scholar Shams al-Din ibn al-Qattan, who entered him in the courses given by al-Bulqini (d. 1404) and Ibn al-Mulaqqin (d. 1402) in Shafi'i fiqh, and Abd al-Rahim ibn al-Husain al-'Iraqi (d. 1404) in hadith, after which he travelled to Damascus and Jerusalem, to study under Shams al-Din al-Qalqashandi (d. 1407), Badr al-Din al-Balisi (d. 1401), and Fatima bint al-Manja al-Tanukhiyya (d. 1401). After a further visit to Mecca, Medina, and Yemen, he returned to Egypt. Al-Suyuti said: “It is said that he drank Zamzam water in order to reach the level of al-Dhahabi in memorization—which he succeeded in doing, even surpassing him.”
In 1397, at the age of twenty-five, he married Anas Khatun. She was a hadith expert in her own right, holding ijazas from Hafiz al-Iraqi. Khatun gave celebrated public lectures to crowds of ulema, including al-Sakhawi. Ibn Hajar went on to be appointed to the position of Egyptian chief-judge (Qadi) several times.
Ibn Hajar authored more than fifty works on hadith, hadith terminology, biographical evaluation, history, Quranic exegesis, poetry and Shafi'i jurisprudence.
--- Fath al-Bari – considered the most prominent and reliable commentary on al-Bukhari's Jami` al-Sahih: In 1414 (817 A.H.), Ibn Hajar commenced the enormous task of assembling his commentary on Sahih Bukhari. Ibn Rajab had begun to write a huge commentary on Sahih Bukhari in the 1390s with the title of Fath al-Bari. Thus, Ibn Hajar decided to name his own commentary with the same title, Fath al-Bari, which in time became the most valued commentary of Sahih Bukhari. When it was finished, in December 1428 (Rajab 842 A.H.), a celebration was held near Cairo, attended by the ulema, judges, and leading Egyptian personalities. Ibn Hajar read the final pages of his work, after which poets recited eulogies and gold was distributed. It was, according to historian Ibn Iyaas (d. 930 A.H.), 'the greatest celebration of the age in Egypt.'
--- al-Isaba fi tamyiz al-Sahaba – the most comprehensive dictionary of the Companions.
--- al-Durar al-Kamina – a biographical dictionary of leading figures of the eighth century.
--- Tahdhib al-Tahdhib – an abbreviation of Tahdhib al-Kamal, the encyclopedia of hadith narrators by Yusuf ibn Abd al-Rahman al-Mizzi
--- Taqrib al-Tahdhib – the abridgement of Tahthib al-Tahthib.
--- Ta'jil al-Manfa'ah – biographies of the narrators of the Musnads of the four Imams, not found in al-Tahthib.
--- Bulugh al-Maram min adillat al-ahkam – on hadith used in Shafi'i fiqh.
--- Nata'ij al-Afkar fi Takhrij Ahadith al-Adhkar
--- Lisan al-Mizan – a reworking of Mizan al-'Itidal by al-Dhahabi.
--- Talkhis al-Habir fi Takhrij al-Rafi`i al-Kabir
--- al-Diraya fi Takhrij Ahadith al-Hidaya
--- Taghliq al-Ta`liq `ala Sahih al-Bukhari
--- Risala Tadhkirat al-Athar
--- al-Matalib al-`Aliya bi Zawa'id al-Masanid al-Thamaniya
--- Nukhbat al-Fikar along with his explanation of it entitled Nuzhah al-Nathr in hadith terminology
--- al-Nukat ala Kitab ibn al-Salah – commentary of the Muqaddimah of Ibn al-Salah
--- al-Qawl al-Musaddad fi Musnad Ahmad a discussion of hadith of disputed authenticity in the Musnad of Ahmad
--- Silsilat al-Dhahab
--- Ta`rif Ahl al-Taqdis bi Maratib al-Mawsufin bi al-Tadlis
Ibn Hajar died after Isha prayers on February 2, 1449 at the age of 79. His funeral in Cairo was said to have been attended by an estimated 50,000 people, including the sultan and the caliph.