Articles & Blog Posts
Shaykh Adnaan Raja / 17th July 2019
A few days ago, on 14 July 2019, the small market town of Ashton-under-Lyne witnessed an overflow of flocking to its longest established mosque. Over three thousand devout Muslims, students of the Islamic tradition, and faith leaders, thronged the mosque’s halls, atrium, and corridors to catch a glimpse of world leading hadith expert Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi and to participate in the finale of his ten-day recital of Sahih al-Bukhari; Islam’s most sacred hadith corpus.
The event was organised by mother of three, Noshin Gul, a prominent British Muslim scholar and trustee of Manchester based community initiative Guidance Hub.
When asked about her thoughts about leading this landmark event, she remarked, “We aimed to share the teachings of mainstream Sunni Islam and assimilate the rich tradition of hadith recital into the British Muslim identity. Although there were many challenges in organising such a complex project, I was greatly supported by Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi, the mosque’s Imam, and the local community.”
An expert of both Arabic palaeography and the Islamic tradition, Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi spent 10 hours a day, across 10 days, reading through all nine volumes of Sahih al-Bukhari with immense precision while commenting on linguistic variations and typographical details of the hadith traditions.
“This book contains 9082 hadith. Classes began at 8am and finished as late as 10pm, with two short breaks for lunch and prayers,” said an attendee.
The event culminated with a monumental finale on the eleventh day. Thousands of attendees and faith leaders from across the country and 30 countries listened attentively along with tens of thousands of viewers online, as Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi recited and explained the final hadith in Sahih al-Bukhari, hadith 9082.
The Shaykh, who has previously held four similar readings, released a critical collector’s edition of Sahih al-Bukhari at the event. Published by Signatora, this edition is a facsimile of the most reliable manuscript of Sahih al-Bukhari which was originally published by Ottoman Sultan and philanthropist Abdul Hamid II.
Some attended to be a part of history in the making while others came to reap the rare opportunity of reading Islam’s most famous hadith collection with an internationally acclaimed scholar. Yet, everyone was driven by a heartfelt attachment to the Prophet Muhammad, as Abdul, one of the regular attendees, summed up: “We came to listen to the Prophet’s words from Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi who is the Prophet’s direct descendent and his living example.”
As the grand finale reached its peak, Shaykh al-Yaqoubi highlighted the involvement of women in hadith transmission across the centuries, beginning with the earliest period of Islam. As an example, he noted that over 20% of the narrators in this book are women; a sharp contrast with the number of women who are noted in other cultures or traditions from the same period.
This has been the beginning of hadith revival in Britain and an epic story of a small town which has found its place on the global map, wherein Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi cast his mark on a tradition spanning 1400 years.