Was Bukhari a Nasibi?


What is a Nāṣibī?

It is very common for one to hear the accusation that Muḥammad b. Ismā’īl al-Bukhārī (author of the Ṣaḥīḥ) was a Nāṣibī, and there are several points that are usually presented to justify this accusation.

Before we address the accusation, it is important that we first define what a Nāṣibī actually is. Renowned linguists and lexicographers: Ibn Manẓūr[1], al-Fairūzābādī[2] and al-Zubaidī[3] all list the same definition of Nawāṣib in their dictionaries:

“Those who, out of religious fervor, have animosity towards Alī [b. Abī Ṭāleb]”

The common definition of a Nāṣibī among Shi’ite and Sunni scholarship (i.e. al-Khoei[4], al-Muḥaqqiq al-Ḥillī[5], Ibn Taymiyah[6] etc.) is:

“An individual who openly displays hatred and animosity towards Ahlulbait”.

Thus, it can be generally said that a Nāṣibī is an individual who openly displays hatred towards Alī and the rest of Ahlulbait.

There are two main points that are brought up to assert this supposed notion:

  1. Bukhārī did not transmit a single report through Ja’far al-Ṣāḍiq in his Ṣaḥīḥ
  2. Bukhārī transmitted ḥadīths through well-known Nawāṣib/Khawārij in his Ṣaḥīḥ

However, a detailed analysis of these arguments is enough to show that they stem from invalid premises that do not validate the conclusion presented.

Bukhārī & Ja’far al-Ṣāḍiq

The assumption made in this argument is that Bukhārī avoided transmitting ḥadīth from Ja’far because he had naṣb and animosity towards Ahlulbait. However, the flaws in this argument become apparent when one simply notes the transmitters from Ahlulbait Bukhārī did include in his Ṣaḥīḥ.


Transmitters from Ahlulbait in Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhārī

Bukhārī transmits ḥadīth in his Ṣaḥīḥ through a plethora of transmitters from Ahlulbait, such as:

  • Fāṭimah b. Muḥammadﷺ
  • ‘Alī b. Abī Ṭāleb (Ja’far’s great-great grandfather)
  • al-‘Abbās b. Abdulmuttalīb
  • al-Fadl b. al-‘Abbās b. ‘Abdulmuttaleb
  • al-Ḥusain b. Alī b. Abī Ṭāleb (Ja’far’s great-grandfather)
  • ‘Abdullah b. ‘Abbās b. ‘Abdulmuttaleb
  • ‘Abdullah b. Ja’far b. Abī Ṭāleb
  • ‘Alī b. al-Ḥusain (Ja’far’s grandfather)
  • Muḥammad al-Bāqir (Ja’far’s father)
  • Muḥammad b. al-Hanafiyyah
  • Kathīr b. al-‘Abbās b. Abdulmutṭaleb
  • ‘Abdullah b. ‘Abdullah b. al-Ḥārith b. Nawfal b. al-Ḥārith b. ‘Abdulmuttaleb
  • ‘Abdullah b. al-Fadl b. al-‘Abbās b. Rabī’ah b. al-Ḥārith b. Abdulmuttaleb

This is a list of transmitters from Ahlulbait Bukhārī included in his Ṣaḥīḥ. If we were to include transmitters Bukhārī included in his other books, such as: al-Adab al-Mufrad, the list would span tens of other transmitters from the Prophet’s family and progeny. Thus, it is evident that Bukhārī did not have an issue with transmitting ḥadīth through Ahlulbait.

Virtues of Ahlulbait in Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhārī:

Not only does Bukhārī transmit ḥadīth through members of Ahlulbait in his Ṣaḥīḥ, but he also includes several chapters in his book dedicated to the virtues of key individuals from Ahlulbait. This can be seen in several chapters listed in his Ṣaḥīḥ, such as:

  • “The Virtues of Fāṭimah”[7]
  • “The Virtues of Alī b. Abī Ṭāleb”[8]
  • “The Virtues of al-Ḥasan and al-Ḥusain” [9]
  • “The Virtues of Ja’far b. Abī Ṭāleb”[10]
  • “The Virtues of the Relatives of the Prophet ﷺ and the Virtue of Fāṭimah, the daughter of the Prophet ﷺ” [11]

In these chapters, he transmits numerous reports that display the status and virtues of many key members from Ahlulbait.

For example, Bukhārī transmits a ḥadīth through Ibrāhīm b. Sa’d from his father, who said: The Prophet ﷺ said to ‘Alī: “Are you not be pleased that you are to me like Aaron was to Moses?” [12]

Similarly, Bukhārī transmits a report through ‘Ai’sha, who transmits from Fāṭimah that the Prophet ﷺ said: “Are you not pleased to be the head of all women in Paradise?” [13]

He also transmits a report through Abū Bakrah, who said: I heard the Prophet ﷺ talking on the pulpit with al-Ḥasan besides him, and He [the Prophet ﷺ] looked at the audience [for a moment], then turn towards al-Ḥasan [for a moment] saying: “This son of mine is a Sayyid, and perhaps Allah will bring about an agreement between two groups of Muslims through him.” [14]

He also transmits a ḥadīth through Ibn ‘Umar where he quotes the Prophet ﷺ describing al-Ḥasan and al-Ḥusain, saying: “They are my two fragrant blossoms of this world” [15]

Thus, it is clear that Bukhārī had no issue in transmitting reports that demonstrated the virtues of Ahlulbait.

Bukhārī’s Exclusion of Some of His Key Teachers in his Ṣaḥīḥ:

Another important point that must be made is that Bukhārī excluded the reports several of his key teachers (and transmitters) from his Ṣaḥīḥ, and this has no implications on Bukhārī’s perception of those individuals. For example, Bukhārī does not transmit a single ḥadīth in his Ṣaḥīḥ directly through:

  • Aḥmed b. Ḥanbal (his sheikh)
  • Muḥammad b. Idrīs al-Shāfi’ī
  • Usāmah b. Sharīk (a companion of the Prophet ﷺ)

The renowned 5th century muḥadīth, al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī, elaborates on Bukhārī’s exclusion of al-Shāfi’ī from his Ṣaḥīḥ, saying:

“What we say in Bukhārī’s exclusion of al-Shāfi’īsḥadīth from his Ṣaḥīḥ was that it was not due to a weakness in the transmission of al-Shāfi’ī. Rather, it was because Bukhārī had access to higher chains of transmission (with less men) than those he would have transmitted through al-Shāfi’ī…[16]

Closely after that, he says:

“Bukhārī never met al-Shāfi’ī, yet he transmitted ḥadīth from transmitters that were older than him in age and transmission….”[17]

al-Khaṭīb then says:

“Bukhārī transmitted from several shuyukh of al-Shāfi’ī himself, such as: Abdullah b. Maslamah al-Qa’nabī, ‘Abdullah b. Yusuf al-Tanīsī, Ismā’il b. Abī Uwais, Abdul’azīz al-Uwaisī (etc) .”[18]

As one can see, Bukhārī omitted al-Shāfi’ī from his Ṣaḥīḥ for technical reasons due to the fact that Bukhārī, himself, had access to shorter, more authentic isnāds.

Thus, it is evident that Bukhārī may exclude the reports of certain transmitters if he has access to shorter, more authentic isnāds through other individuals. This omission has no implications on Bukhārī’s perception of those individuals, personally or theologically speaking.

Another example of a reason why Bukhārī excluded certain transmitters from his Ṣaḥīḥ is the companion of the Prophet ﷺ, Usāmah b. Sharīk. The reason Bukhārī avoids his reports has nothing to do with his status as a transmitter. Rather, the renowned 4th-5th century muḥaddith, al-Ḥākim al-Naysābūri explains the reason why Bukhārī had avoided Usāmah’s reports. al-Ḥākim says:

Abū al-Ḥasan ‘Alī b. Umar al-Hafidh once asked me: “Why did they [Bukhārī & Muslim] omit Usāmah b. Sharīk from both books?

al-Ḥākim responds saying:

Because his reports were exclusively transmitted through Ziyad b. ‘Ilaqah[19]

In this example, al-Ḥākim presents an example of a reliable and trustworthy transmitter who was omitted by al-Bukhārī simply due to the fact that his reports were exclusively transmitted through a problematic transmitter in his eyes. Again, this omission has no implications on the status of Usāmah as a reliable transmitter and companion of the Prophet ﷺ.

These are just a few examples, but there are many other technical indicators that could account for the reasons as to why Bukhārī avoided the transmission of a plethora of reliable transmitters in his Ṣaḥīḥ.

The fact that Bukhārī transmitted ḥadīth through Muḥammad al-Bāqir, ‘Alī b. al-Ḥusain and many other relatives of the Prophet ﷺ, along with the fact that he included whole chapters that displayed the virtues of Ahlulbait, attest to the notion that Bukhārī had no theological bias against Ahlulbait, and that he was not a Nāṣibī.

Bukhārī’s Transmission from Nāṣibī’s and Khārijtes

This is one of the most flawed arguments/fallacies that may be presented in the context of ḥadīth sciences/transmission. Some Shias argue that the fact Bukhārī transmitted reports in his Ṣaḥīḥ through Nāṣibīs/Khārijtes such as: ‘Imran b. Hittan, Lumāzah b. Zabbār al-Azdī, Ḥusain b. Numair al-Wāsitī (etc.) entails that Bukhārī endorsed their theologies. However, this reasoning is very problematic: simply transmitting a report through a transmitter does not entail an endorsement of his/her theology in any shape or form. The biggest counter to this flawed argument is the fact that Bukhārī also transmitted reports in his Ṣaḥīḥ through many well-known Shi’ite/Rāfidhī transmitter ssuch as:

  • ‘Abbād b. Ya’qūb
  • ‘Abdulmalik b. A’yan (Zurārah’s brother)
  • ‘Awf b. Abī Jamīlah
  • Sulaymān b. Qarm al-Ḍabbī

To be consistent in their reasoning, proponents of this argument are logically obligated to assert that Bukhārī was a Shi’ite/Rāfidhī as well, simply because he transmitted ḥadīths through some Shi’ite transmitters!

In fact, Bukhārī transmits reports in his Ṣaḥīḥ through tens of different transmitters whom Bukhārī vehemently disagrees with in theology, such as:

  • Qatādah b. Di’āmah (a Qadarī)
  • Abu Mu’āwiyah (a Murji’)
  • Hassān b. ‘Aṭiyyah (a Qadarī)
  • Shabābah b. Sawwār (a Murji’)

Any reasonable individual would recognize that Bukhārī had transmitted reports in his book through many transmitters of different theological leanings, which he certainly did not endorse.


It is evident that the arguments presented to justify the accusations against Bukhārī are flawed and contradictory in nature. The fact that Bukhārī did not include any reports through Ja’far in his book can be addressed with several points:

  1. Bukhārī transmitted ḥadīth through Jafar’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather… along with many other transmitters from Ahlulbait.
  2. Bukhārī, in his Ṣaḥīḥ, included several chapters that spanned tens of reports which display the virtues of many key individuals from Ahlulbait, such as: ‘Alī, Fāṭimah, al-Ḥasan, al-Ḥusain, Ja’far (etc.)
  3. Bukhārī excludes the reports of many reliable transmitters for technical reasons/indicators that have nothing to do with his perception of those transmitters.

The other flawed argument that Bukhārī was a Nāṣibī because he simply transmitted ḥadīth through Nāṣibī transmitters could also be addressed with the following points:

  1. A simple transmission of ḥadīth through a transmitter does not entail an endorsement of his theology in any shape or form.
  2. Bukhārī included Shi’ite/Rāfidhī transmitters in his Ṣaḥīḥ, along with many other transmitters of varying theological leanings.

[1]Lisān al-‘Arab 2/762

[2]Al-Qāmūs al-Muhīt 2/138

[3]Tājul-‘Arūs 4/277

[4] Al-Tanqīh fī Sharh al-‘Urwatul-Wuthqa 3/69

[5]Al-Rasā’il al-Tis’ p. 278

[6]Majmū’ al-Fatāwā 4/154

[7]Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhārī 6/29

[8]Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhārī 6/18

[9]Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhārī 6/26

[10]Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhārī 6/19

[11]Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhārī 6/20

[12]Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhārī 6/19

[13]Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhārī 9/64

[14]Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhārī 6/26

[15]Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhārī 6/27

[16] Al-Ihtijaj bil Shafi’i p. 38

[17] Al-Ihtijaj bil Shafi’i p. 38

[18] Al-Ihtijaj bil Shafi’i p. 38

[19] al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Ṣaḥīḥayn 5/444

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