In the village of Khartang in Payaryk district, 25 km from Samarkand is one of the most venerated pilgrimage sites of Islam – the complex of Imam al-Bukhari.
Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Ismail al-Bukhari is a famous theologian and Hadith scholar (Hadithology is the science of Hadith, reports on the utterances and deeds of the Prophet Muhammad) and the author of the second most important Muslim book after the Koran, “Al-Jomiy al-Sahih” (“A Trusted Collection”).
Imam Al-Bukhari was born in Bukhara in 810. It is known that his great-grandfather was one of the first to adopt Islam. His father was one of the tellers of holy legends. His father died when Al-Bukhari was still a child. Al-Bukhari remained with his mother, who raised him. She was an educated woman who trained the boy in various sciences. Muhammad was a sensitive, intelligent man and had an extraordinary memory for his age. At the age of 7 he learned the whole Koran by heart, at the age of 10 he knew several thousand Hadiths by heart. In 825, when he was 16 years old, al-Bukhari went to the Hajj in Mecca and Medina with his mother and his older brother Ahmad. After the pilgrimage, his mother and brother returned to Bukhara and he travelled for many years to different Muslim countries, where he studied with famous Islamic scholars of the time.
According to a legend he collected hundreds of thousands of hadiths, of which he knew 300,000 by heart. He spent 42 years of his life studying them. He began to write his book in Basra and continued writing it for many years, including, according to him, hadiths from 1080 experts. His book contains 7275 authentic Hadiths. Proof of the authenticity of the Hadith is the reliability of the transmission path and each of its connections, which gives a moral picture of the transmitter on which he can rely. Al-Bukhari attached particular importance to identifying the persons who served as the source of the transmission. He inserted only those hadiths that were made into “credible” statements by people who were direct witnesses of the Prophet’s act. Imam al-Bukhari had been working on his book for 16 years.
It is known from sources that he wrote many other books, including “Ta’rihih Kabir” (“The Great History”). After writing “As-Sakhih”, he returned to Bukhara and began to teach anyone who wanted to learn, because he believed that learning together would bring great benefits to society through literacy. His authority was so high that a hadith unknown to him was considered untrustworthy by the people.
Regardless of his will, he clashed with the ruler of Bukhara, Tahiridd Holid ibn Ahmad, and was forced to move to the village of Khartoang near Samarkand, where he died in 870. The cemetery in the village of Khartang in the Payarik district of Samarkand region became the most venerated and holy place of pilgrimage. In the XVI century a small mosque was built near the Imam-al-Bukhari mausoleum and Chinar trees were planted.
During the time of the Soviet Union this Muslim holy place was forgotten and no religious ceremonies were held here. The mosque gradually fell into disrepair, but it was to be revived in 1954 thanks to the visit of Indonesian President Sukarno. After his visit to Moscow, President Sukarno arrived in Tashkent and asked to be allowed to venerate the remains of St. Imam al-Bukhari. The authorities of the Republic, having heard this, were even confused at first because they had already forgotten who Imam al-Bukhari was and where his tomb was located. In a hurry the order was given to send the Commission to Samarkand immediately. The authorities could not refuse President Sukarno, since the Soviet Union was then beginning to establish international relations with many countries, including countries in the Islamic East, on Khrushchev’s initiative, and the refusal therefore threatened to cause an international scandal. When the authorities arrived on the scene, however, they saw an extremely unpleasant picture: the mosque was completely abandoned and there was not even a gravestone on Al Bukhari’s grave. And on the orders of the High Command, the mosque and the surrounding area were cleaned up as much as possible within one day and even an asphalt road to the mosque was laid in a very short time. In short, the Al Bukhari Mosque welcomed President Sukarno. He bowed before the grave of the great scholar and honoured his memory. President Sukarno was followed by Somali President Madiba Keita, who also visited Tashkent and asked to visit the tomb of St. Ismail al-Bukhari. The Ismail al-Bukhari Mosque was then handed over to the Islamic Council of Muslims of Central Asia and Kazakhstan, apparently on the orders of the Centre (Moscow). Since then the mosque has been visited again through prayer.
After the independence of Uzbekistan, the Complex of Imam Muhammad ibn Ismail al-Bukhari in Samarkand was restored. In 1998, a majestic memorial complex was built in the village of Khartoum, which includes a mausoleum, a mosque, a library and a Koran school. In the same year 1998, the celebrations of the 1225th birthday of the famous scientist took place in Samarkand on 23 October.
Access to the complex is through an entrance portal with carved gates. In the centre of the Complex is the mausoleum of Imam Ismail al-Bukhari in the shape of a rectangular prism, square at the base, measuring 9×9 m and 17 m high. The dome of the mausoleum is double, ribbed and decorated with blue tiles. The walls are decorated with mosaics, majolica, ganche, onyx and granite with plant and geometrical ornaments. In the centre there is a gravestone made of light green onyx.
On the left side of the courtyard there is a mosque, a khonaqo and a hall of 786 square meters, where 1500 believers can pray at the same time. On the right side there is a library and a museum with rare copies of handwritten and lithographic books on Islamic religion, gifts from statesmen of different states, including a part of the “Kiswah” – a ceiling piece from the Kaaba in Mecca, which was presented to the memorial by the King of Saudi Arabia.
At the back of the courtyard is a hadith training centre. In the middle of the courtyard there is a water basin – “Khauz” with ancient Chinar trees, next to which there is a medicinal water spring.
In order to research the spiritual heritage of Imam al-Bukhari in depth and to spread it widely, an international foundation was established, which has been publishing its own spiritual and educational journal since 2000. Al-Bukhari’s books are used in madrassas and Islamic universities as the main textbook for the study of the Sunna (holy tradition) about the Prophet Muhammad.