Sheikh al-Bukhari and the Uzbek Palestinian Community
This is Sheikh Abd al-Aziz al-Bukhari, and he is one of the kindest people I’ve met. For those who were brought up Muslim or have taken class on Islam, the name is familiar: Muhammad bin Ismail al-Bukhari compiled one of the two most trusted sources of Hadith, the sayings of the Prophet, known as Sahih al-Bukhari. Photo by Rachael Strecher.
Sheikh Abd al-Aziz is his direct descendant, and the leader of an Uzbek Naqshbandi Sufi sect here in Jerusalem. Born in Jerusalem, he traveled as a young man to Konya, Turkey, to learn Sufism, and is fluent in Arabic, Turkish, Uzbek, English and Hebrew. He runs the Uzbek Cultural Center out of his house in Jerusalem, and is an integral part of the Jerusalem Peace Makers, a dialogue group comprising all the major religious sects and groups represented in the city. Three of them, Sheikh Bukhari, Rabbi Eliyahu and Father Jack were featured by the Face2Face Project.
He lived in Chicago for more than 10 years, so his English is peppered with idiomatic phrases one doesn’t expect to hear from a Sufi Sheikh. For example, “I was like ‘what the heck is this, man?'”
His house has been in his family for more than 350 years, and contains more treasures of his family history than I could ever relate. Among them, more than 200 original handwritten manuscripts in Arabic, Uzbek, and Persian dealing mostly with religious matters, but not limited to.
This is a piece of calligraphy from 1604, AD.
Right before the war in 1948, his house was bombed by the British. This china closet had all the windows smashed in the explosion, except for one pane which stayed in despite the shrapnel holes. His grandfather had all the other panes replaced, but chose to keep the scarred one as a testament.