A Story


 Two Muhammads


Reflections and Manhaj lessons for the Ummah today


Prepared by

Abu Aaliyah Abdullah ibn Dwight Lamont Battle


بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

In the early part of the 3rd century there were two Imams, both named Abu Abdullah Muhammad and equally they were scholars of Hadith.  One is known as Imam Al-Bukhari and the other is Imam Ath-Thuhli. While both of these scholars are known for their virtue and service to the Sunnah, there were some differences between these two contemporary Imams that created some conflict and confusion in Naysabur.

As soon as Imam Al-Bukhari arrived in Naysabur Muhammad ibn Yahya Ath-Thuhli advised his students to sit and learn hadith from him. He said, “Go and learn from this  pious man” . Consequently, his students took his advice and began to learn Hadith from Imam Bukhari. As a result of this Imam Ath-Thuhli’s Hadith study circles began to reduce in numbers, so, he became jealous and began to speak ill of Imam Al-Bukhari.

Due to the existing jealously of Imam Al-Bukhari there were some rumors flown around about his belief that the pronunciation of the Quran was created. Once this gossip spread Imam Al-Bukhari was tested about this belief in his sittings. Once a student came to Imam Al-Bukhari’s gathering stood up and said, “ Abu Abdullah, what is your stance about the pronunciation of the Quran? Is it created or not?”  Imam Al-Bukhari simply ignored this man, but he repeated his question at least three times. After his third request for an answer Imam Al-Bukhari said, “ The Quran is the speech of Allah and it isn’t created, the actions of the slave are created and to test people with this issue is an innovation.”

The questioner dissatisfied with Imam Al-Bukhari’s answer provoked discord and controversy among the people and thus some people abandoned Imam Al-Bukhari. Imam Al-Bukhari was patient and he remained in his house worshipping Allah. That frustrated group of people insisted Imam Al-Bukhari wasn’t serious. Therefore, in another occasion Imam Al-Bukhari was asked, “ Is the pronunciation of the Quran created?” He replied, “ Each and every action of the slave is created.”  After this response they took a decision and declared Imam Al-Bukhari as being misguided and some considered him an apostate. They ordered Imam Al-Bukhari to recant from his speech and position. They told Imam Al-Bukhari that if he recanted they would rejoin his classes again. Being firm in his belief and fearing none but Allah, Imam Al-Bukhari said, “ I will not withdraw from this view until you can produce proof stronger than the one I have.” Imam Yahya ibn Sa’eed Al-Qattan was present at this incident and said “ I was amazed at Imam Al-Bukhari’s unwavering belief under that pressure.

As the days passed there was a funeral prayer for Abu Uthman Sa’eed ibn Marwan. Imam Al-Bukhari and Imam Ath-Thuhli both attended. After the Janaza people began to ask Imam Ath-Thuli questions about the names and Kunyas of hadith narrators and even some asked him questions about Illal Hadith, this didn’t bother Imam Al-Bukhari one bit.Imam Al-Bukhari walked swiftly right pass Imam Ath-Thuhli not paying him any attention.

The campaigners of discord would go between these two Imams asking the same questions. During a class Imam Ath-Thuhli screamed,” whoever sits in Imam Al-Bukhari’s class isn’t welcome to sit in ours. Whoever says the pronunciation of the Quran is created must leave.” Following those words Imam Al-Bukhar’s student; Imam Muslim stood up and walked out of the class.

The turmoil for Imam Al-Bukhari and his students began to grow more intense. One day Muhammad ibn Shathil went to Imam Al-Bukhari complaining about the situation seeking a solution. He said, “ How can we fix this problem between you two? Everyone who sits and learns from you is driven away from his classes.”  Imam Al-Bukhari said: “ Look at how Muhammad ibn Yahya has become afflicted with jealously over knowledge! Knowledge is a provision of Allah. He gives it to whoever He wills.”  “This problem you’re busying yourself with is a contentious issue . I saw the way Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal dealt with it, so I’ve decided to not talk about it.

The people’s desires were unfulfilled, so they headed to Imam Al-Bukhari’ house and assembled there outside waiting for him. Imam Ath-Thuhli joined the crowd at Imam Al-Bukhari’s house and said, “ Don’t ask him anything about the speech, because if he answers different than mine there will be some problems between us. For that reason, every Haruri, Rafidhi, Jahmi and Murji in Khurasan will take malicious pleasure in the mishap between us.”

After three days the massive crowd reached high numbers until some of them sat on the roof of his house. When Imam Bukhari came out they asked him about the pronunciation of the Quran, He replied:” Our actions are created and our speech is part of our actions.” Immediately   after that response people said: “ He said the words of the Quran are created.” While some people said: “ He didn’t say that.” Eventually the crowd dispersed.


Benefits from this story

  • Sometimes a shaykh can become so amazed with himself he can’t stand to see anyone else share the arena of Dawah with him.[1]


  • At times a shaykh will praise a scholar or person and this will increase the numbers of the person praised and reduce the numbers of the shaykh giving the praise. Hence he will become jealous. Ath-Thuhli told his students, “Go and learn from this  pious man”.


  • “Go and learn from this pious man” These words show that whenever a new person comes to an area to give Dawah the people who are knowledgeable must either recommend him or warn against him. .


  • A person afflicted with jealously of his contemporary will be happy when his gatherings aren’t crowded.


  • When contemporaries are jealous of each other they will make their peer’s mistake bigger than anyone else’s. Every time his colleague makes a mistake he becomes content, because he believes this will increase his numbers. Therefore, he spreads this error and his loyal followers become fanatical towards him.


  • When one colleague is jealous of the other he won’t highlight his virtue anymore, nor will he attribute any benefit about his efforts. [2]


  • The badly affected jealous person finds uneasiness when his peer is asked a question instead of him. After the funeral prayer Imam Ath-Thuhli was answering questions, but Imam Al-Bukhari just breezed right past him not showing any trouble in his emotion. Although, Imam Al-Bukhari knew the answers and was probably the most knowledable between the two. Allah knows best.


  • People love the spread of gossip more than learning. During that hadith class with one of the greatest imams in history this person stood up and asked a question to cause discord. This is the case in 1436H/2014 with many of the phone calls made to the scholars about issues regarding other people of knowledge. Once they get the desired response they rush to What’s App, Twitter, Face book and YouTube.


  • Scholars are aware when they are being given loaded questions. Imam Al-Bukhari just simply ignored the man. Sarcastically this man remains unknown till this day.


  • People love to keep a story about a person going in order to elevate their status or be relevant. The desired outcome is to stop people from benefitting from the target person.


  • Every so often we find a scholar is accused of something he didn’t say or blamed for a belief he doesn’t hold. Imam Al-Bukhari was blamed for saying something he never said simply because the people didn’t understand his speech. This all too common today in 1436H/2014 where some people don’t understand Arabic or English in some cases and are involved in giving dawah.


  • Occasionally a person can be held as an innovator or astray based on rumors or from a flawed understanding of few. Imam Muslim said: “ I have never seen any scholar treated they way they treated Imam Al-Bukhari in Naysabur”


  • Sometimes people are so sure their position is correct they try and force it on to others through pressure. They told Imam Al-Bukhari, that if he recanted they would rejoin his classes again. This is a form of peer pressure presented to some Muslims today in 1436H/2014 where a few dissidents try and force their position or the Fatwa of their sheikh on others.


  • Sometimes a student will abandon a scholar out of the love he has for his personal teacher, sheikh or scholar. Imam Muslim abandoned all of Imam Ath-Thuhli’s hadith due to the way he treated Imam Al-Bukhari. In fact among the 6 books of hadith Imam Muslim collected the most hadith from Ath-Thuhli.


  • Imam Bukhari maintained his composure throughout this fitnah. He remained silent and didn’t respond to all the attacks. Even when they would visit him he would educate them.


  • Due to the fitnah that occurred between these two, Imam Al-Bukhari would narrate his hadith using Tadless. He would say, “Muhammad, Muhammad ibn Khalid, or Muhammd ibn Abdillah. He would conceal his name. May Allah forgive them both.[3]



  • Cult followers are known to go from one scholar to the next asking the same questions until they get the answer they want. When they aren’t given the answer they want to the question they never disclose those answers. There were numerous reports of Imam Al-Bukhari answering this question based on the belief of Ahlus Sunnah, but those people hid his answer. This is common today in 1436H/2014 when a quick phone call is placed among a few selected people. Once the answer they desire is given it’s then made public. Otherwise it is brushed under the rug.


  • Now and again a scholar will request students who attend deviants study groups to leave his. This was known from the late Imam Ahmed An-Najmi (may Allah have mercy on him) in reference to those who attend Shaykh Jibrin’s (may Allah have mercy on him) classes.


  • A scholar’s speech can be misunderstood and misinterpreted. When Imam Al-Bukhari came out he answered the question:” Our actions are created and our speech is part of our actions.” Immediately after that response people said: “ He said the words of the Quran are created.” While some people said: “ He didn’t say that.” Some people took his speech to mean the words of the Quran are created, when in fact he didn’t say that. He said our actions are created and our speech is part of our actions.


  • Imam Ahmed didn’t entertain this issue although he could have. Nonetheless, he didn’t get involved and thus that was an example for Imam Al-Bukhari to learn from.


  • Sometimes a scholar will withdraw narrating on people who don’t adhere to his position. This is similar to how Imam Ahmed abandoned Yahya ibn Ma’een, Ali ibn Madini, Abu Ma’mar Al-Hathili and others. He abandoned those scholars and prohibited his son Abdullah from narrating on them as well. Imam Ahmed became very angry with those Imams, so he didn’t narrate to them, on them or even speak to them. Imam Ath-Thahabbi said this stance was a bit extreme. [4]


  • When jealously is present between two contemporaries one will always define his peer’s speech in a way which can be correct or false to be incorrect. By doing this action he hits his target to get his opponent boycotted. [5]


  • The example of how the people crowed at Bukhari’s house is similar to what we find today. When people flock from one scholars website to the next waiting for an error. Instead of benefitting from that scholar’s knowledge before he dies. They could have asked Imam Al-Bukhari about hadith, chains or narrators. This is how knowledge disappears.


  • People flock to scholars and waste their time. They waited three days at his house and when he exited they didn’t ask him a question which was directly related to their life. This is common in 1436H/2014 where people make visits to scholars and report things of no benefit to the masses.



  • The jealously and envy of Ath-Thuhli lead him to say (pronunciation of the Quran) with the belief of the Jahmi is what Imam Al-Bukhari intended. Its letters and sound. But Imam Al-Bukhari intended the actions of the servant, which is the recitation of the Quran. And the actions of Allah’s slave are created. So for that reason, whenever there is a criticism between two contemporaries don’t look at one and not the other. [6]


  • The Muslim must avoid asking the scholars questions which light the fire of differing. Allah says : O you who believe! Ask not about things which, if made plain to you, may cause you trouble[ Al-Ma’idah 101]


  • Imam Ath-Thuhli told his students not to ask Imam Al-Bukhari anything, because he knew that if their answers weren’t the same, then Ahl Bid’ah would take advantage of that differing. This is widespread today in cyberspace due to the idle youth’s hastiness and untaught educators nurturing them. Bloggers and Tweeters spread bias information on the net from selected reporting. This assists the people of desires to laugh and ridicule Sunni Muslims and their scholars. Some people have even created special forums and websites to wage war against the people of the Sunnah.


  • A person mustn’t narrate everything he hears being said about person who is known to be upright and firm in his Aqeedah and Manhaj. Imam Malik ibn Anas said: “It’s a serious harm for a person to repeat everything he hears.[7]


  • Ath-Thuhli is trustworthy but he made a mistake and this mistake didn’t diminish his rank as being titled Shaykul Islam by At-Thahabbi in Siyr.


  • Imam Ahmed said: “All of you must know that when the man has been awarded knowledge from Allah, which his peers haven’t been granted they will envy him. Thus they will accuse him of things he doesn’t say or believe.” [8]


Allah the Most High knows best and to him I repent and seek His Mercy and Forgiveness. If there is any benefit in this Ebook for the Muslims then Al-Hamdulilah and if there are any errors then they are from me and can be changed. May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon the Messenger Muhammad and his family until the last day.


This story can be found in Siyr by Ath-Thahabbi and Tareekh Al-Baghdad.

Translation and Commentary by

Abu Aaliyah Abdullah ibn Dwight Lamont Battle (May Allah forgive him)

Doha, Qatar.1436©

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[1] Abu Abdul Ala’,Ta’asub lis Shayukh, pg156

[2] As-Suyuti , Al-Muzhar 2/329

[3] At-Thahabbi ,Siyr #2069

[4] Dr. Muhammad ibn Turki, Manhaj Al-Muhadditheen, pg 51-51,

[5] , Shaykh Hamad Al-Uthman mAn-Nubthu fi Adab Talibil Ilm. pg264,

[6]  Dr. Hamad Al-Uthman Al-Muhararu fi Jarh wa Ta’dil pg 252,

[7] Ath-Thahhabi 8/66

[8] Ath-Thahhabi 10/58]

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