Did Imam Al-Bukhari say “My Recitation of the Quran is Created”?

In the Name of Allaah, the All-Merciful, the Ever Merciful…

A phrase of disbelief and one of the slogans that identify the Laf-thiyyah Cult from the offshoots of the disbelieving Jahmiyyah Sect was attributed to the greatest scholar of Hadeeth in the history of Islaam, al-Imaam Muhammad ibn Ismaa’eel al-Bukhaaree (d.256), may Allaah have Mercy on him.  This short phrase was attributed to him:

لفظي بالقرآن مخلوق

“My recitation of the Quran is created.”

According to the scholars of Islam, anyone who held this belief was considered a disbeliever, speaking with one of the distinguishing traits of the Laf-thiyyah Cult, who were considered far more dangerous than the original Jahmiyyah disbelievers.

The great imaam, Abul-Qaasim al-Laalakaa’ee (d.418), listed the names of the scholars who were reported to have declared those who say “My recitation of the Quran is created” to be disbelievers. He listed over 50 scholars, including:

  • Ash-Shaafi’ee
  • Ahmad ibn Hanbal
  • Is-haaq ibn Raahawayh
  • Aboo ‘Ubayd al-Qaasim ibn Sallaam
  • Aboo Thowr Ibraaheem ibn Khaalid al-Kalbee
  • Muhammad ibn Bash-shaar
  • Muhammad ibn Yahyaa ath-Thuhlee
  • Ahmad ibn Sa’eed ad-Daarimee
  • Aboo Zur’ah ar-Raazee
  • Aboo Haatim ar-Raazee

Source: Sharh Usool Ali’tiqaad (2/385-390) of al-Laalakaa’ee.

This accusation spread far and wide in the lifetime of al-Imaam al-Bukhaaree, leading the governors of various lands to banish him or deny him entry!  Some great scholars of that time even declared al-Imaam al-Bukhaaree to be an innovator based on that statement.  So we need to know: Did al-Imaam al-Bukhaaree actually say it?

The answer is quite simple:

NO

It began as a false accusation based on assumptions, originating from a contemporary of Imaam al-Bukhaaree who had become jealous.  Al-Bukhaaree was actually asked about the phrase “My recitation of the Quran is created” directly, and he masterfully dissected the loaded phrase into its two components, the Quran being the Speech of Allaah, and the human action of recitation. (Refer to this video for the correct methodology of handling issues like this.)

People misunderstood this and claimed that al-Bukhaaree agreed with the Laf-thiyyah Cult, after which great turmoil ensued.  In the midst of this turmoil, Imaam al-Bukhaaree began to face further accusations based on even more incorrect assumptions about his answer. People began to attribute to him that he said that what is in the mus-haf is not Quran, and that what is memorized in the people’s chests is not the actual Quran, to which he replied:

استغفر الله أن تشهد علي ما لم تسمعه مني! إني أقول كما قال الله والطور وكتاب مسطور، أقول في المصاحف قرآن، وفي صدور الرجال قرآن، فمن قال غير هذا يستتاب، فإن تاب، وإلا فسبيله سبيل الكفر.

“Seek Allaah’s Forgiveness from testifying against me with what you have not heard from me! I say as Allaah has said: “By at-Toor (Mountain), and by a written book (the Quran).” I say that what is in the mus-hafs is the Quran and what is in the people’s chests is the Quran.  Whoever says other than this must be made to repent.  If he repents (then leave him), otherwise he is to be dealt with as someone who has disbelieved.”

Source: Sharh Usool Ali’tiqaad (2/395-396) of al-Laalakaa’ee.

Scholars came to him to verify the statements being spread about him. He would say:

من زعم من أهل نيسابور _ وذكر بلادًا _ أني قلت لفظي بالقرآن مخلوق فهو كذاب فإني لم أقل هذه المقالة، إلا أني قلت أفعال العباد مخلوقة.

“Whoever from Naysaaboor (and he named many cities) assumes that I have said that my recitation of the Quran is created is a liar, as I have not said that.  I merely said: The people’s actions are created.”

Source: Sharh Usool Ali’tiqaad (2/396-397) of al-Laalakaa’ee.

The great modern scholar and critic, Shaykh Rabee’ ibn Haadee al-Madkhalee (may Allaah preserve him), was asked about the accusations against al-Imaam al-Bukhaaree.  He said:

قذفوه بأنه يقول : لفظي بالقرآن مخلوق وهو بريء من ذلك غاية البراءة، وقال: من قال عني هذا فقد كذب كائنا من كان ومن أي بلد كان من الحجاز أو من غيرها فقد كذب علي أنا ما قلته، بل نقل عنه أنه يقول: من يقول: (لفظي بالقرآن مخلوق فهو كافر). فبهتوا هذا الإمام رحمه الله.

They accused him of saying “My recitation of the Quran is created” while he was innocent of that, as innocent as can be!  He said: “Whoever said that about me, no matter who or where he may be, from the Hijaaz (Makkah, Madeenah) or anywhere else, has lied upon me.  I did not say it.”  It is even reported that he said: “Whoever says that the recitation of the Quran is created is a disbeliever!”  They slandered this imaam (may Allaah have Mercy on him).

Source: Q&A About ‘Aqeedah and Manhaj (Part 3), available here (in Arabic).

So as you can see from the mouth of the great imaam himself, he simply did not say what he was accused of saying.  It was only the false accusation of a contemporary overtaken by jealousy.  Even though it had some impact in its time, it died out, because the scholars of Islam recognized it for what it was.  Today, the name of al-Bukhaaree is a household name, and the name of the scholar who accused him is one that most people have never heard of (may Allaah forgive him).

It is important to note that – even today – some people with agendas may try to revive this 1000+ year old falsehood against Imaam al-Bukhaaree.

The enemies of Islaam revive this accusation to nullify, weaken, or question the solid academic foundations of Islaam, the Quran and the Hadeeth.  To consider al-Bukhaaree astray would lead to people doubting and abandoning his staple hadeeth collection.

The enemies of the Sunnah, even while they may claim to be Muslims, also seek to revive this accusation.  This includes those called the “Qur’aaniyyoon” who claim to follow only the Quran, as well as those who follow the Shiite Religion.

The enemies of the correct beliefs of Ahlus-Sunnah also try to revive this ancient slander, like the Jahmiyyah, the Ash’arees, the Mu’tazilah, and others.  If they can lead some of the Muslims into doubting the correctness of the beliefs of the greatest imaams of the righteous Salaf, like Imaam al-Bukhaaree, then this would open the door for lenience and even acceptability for their innovated beliefs.

One example of the modern day Ash’arees doing this would be the footnotes of Shu’ayb al-Arna’oot and his team of researchers who commented on Siyar A’laam an-Nubalaa’ (12/458-459) of ath-Thahabee.  While the text of the book explicitly rejects this accusation against al-Bukhaaree and discredits it, the researchers actually try to justify and affirm it in their commentary!

Fanatic followers of today’s “Islamic” personalities may also attempt to revive this accusation against al-Bukhaaree.  More than one instance of this has appeared in the responses of the followers of Yusuf Estes to the public corrections of the ancient Jahmiyyah that he has been spreading.  The extreme ghuluw (fanatacism) for him and those like him will allow some people to try and throw the imaams of Islaam under the bus, so long as Yusuf Estes does not come out looking that bad!  This is why this issue is extremely relevant to our times, and not an issue of the past being dug up for no reason.

Furthermore, a mistranslation (or omission) in a recent publication, “The Biography of Imam Bukhaaree” (Darussalam, 2005), may lead some readers to think that perhaps al-Bukhaaree did actually say “My recitation of the Quran is created”.  At the top of p.175 where it says that he denied ever saying, “The Quran is created,” it should read, “My recitation of the Quran is created.”  This correction is based on the quoted sources in the footnotes, and it clarifies that al-Bukhaaree specifically negated this accusation.  Without this correction, readers of the book may be left to some unbefitting conclusions about the beliefs of Imaam al-Bukhaaree.

In conclusion, if you find people today still trying to accuse the great imaam of the Muslims, Imaam Muhammad ibn Ismaa’eel al-Bukhaaree (may Allaah have Mercy on him), of having a major mistake in his creed like this, then stand up for him confidently, saying what al-Bukhaaree said himself:

Whoever claims such a thing is a liar!

And Allaah knows best.

Written by: Moosaa Richardson

22 thoughts on “Did Imam Al-Bukhari say “My Recitation of the Quran is Created”?

  1. Subhan Allah i’ve heard this story many times when people try to defend the people of innovation. They believe their innovator was like al-Bukhari and the scholar who criticizes is like Dhuhlee.

  2. I’ve encountered this slander all too often here in the states. It is used by the people of innovation to cast doubt into the hearts of young salafis. When confronted, they even admit that they know it is false, they “only wanted to see what the salafi had to say about it”. I specifically heard this from the Ash3aris in the north, and the Ghulaat As-Sufiyyah in the south.
    May Allah reward the author for his efforts and strengthen his sincerity and attachment to the the sunnah.

  3. I think the part about the Sheik Estes and others should be removed from this article, it just dosen’t bring anything good to this page. Surely the writer here can see that.

    • Thanks for visiting, Aristo. The writer tries to link correct creed and methodology to real life situations. The issues of Yusuf Estes are modern issues that many Muslims are struggling with as we speak. Sadly, some of his followers would rather slander the imams of Islam with accusations like this one over admitting that Yusuf Estes has serious contradictions to correct beliefs in Islam and dealing with that reality.

    • Shu’ayb al-Arna’oot is a hadeeth researcher and muhaqqiq (manuscript editor) who mainly works on preparing Arabic books for publication from manuscript form. While he seems reliable with regards to the basic integrity of his work and his hadeeth references, he follows the deviant ash’ari creed and some of his innovation leaks out into his footnotes in the books he prepares for publication.

    • The Quran is not an authored work, it is the Speech of Allaah, one of His Attributes, and not created. As it is the Speech of Allaah, it is not befitting to describe it with other than what Allaah and His Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) have described it with. And Allaah knows best.

  4. As salaam ‘alaykum. Nice article. The sunnah is clear without being crooked. Please like to have your mail br. Moosa. JazaakaLlaahu khayran.

  5. A well-known imam said this about those who wanted to burn the Quran: “As for burning the Qur’an – well, kind of hard to do that because the original is not even on this planet and what is on this planet is in the hearts of millions of Muslims. So it will take a lot of burning and nothing will burn except some paper.” It sounds kind of like what Yusuf Estes said about the “Quran not being on this planet”. But the difference is this guy used the word “original”. So what is the ruling on what he said?

    • “What is on this planet” is:

      The Quran written on paper.
      The Quran memorized by heart.
      The Quran recited orally.

      By total ijmaa’ of Ahlus-Sunnah. Read the PDF “The Written Mushaf is the Actual Quran” for detailed refutations of those who would make a distinction between the Quran we have in our mushafs and the Quran written in al-Lowh al-Mahfooth. And Allaah knows best.

  6. So, what do we believe about our recitation? How do we believe that it isn’t created. Very worried… [Question abridged by admin]

  7. Assalaamu’alaykum

    Regarding this issue, a brother recently told me that YaHyaa ibn ma’een spread this allegation about Imaam Bukhaari out of jealousy. How true is this statement?

    • Wa ‘alayk as-salaamu wa rahmatullaah. Ask him for his source please. It seems unlikely, as Yahyaa ibn Ma’een was a senior scholar when al-Bukhaaree was still young, he died in 233 before al-Bukhaaree had even reached the age of 40. And I believe the accusations against al-Bukhaaree were closer to his later years, and Allaah knows best. Maybe you mean instead: Muhammad ibn Yahyaa ath-Thuhlee?

  8. AlHamdulillaah..upon sharing your response, he said during our conversation that he is perhaps mistaken and is making tawbah on this. JazaakAllaahu khayran for the response..

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