Friday, August 31, 2012

The Salaf's love of Reading Books-Imam Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr (ra)

The Virtue of Reading Books

[Anecdotes from the lives of the Salaf]
Imam Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr (ra) from - Jami’ Bayan al-’Ilm wa Fadlih

In the Name of Allâh, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful

2414: Abu ‘Abdullah Muhammad bin Isma’il al-Bukhari was asked:
“What is it that strengthens one’s memory?”
He replied: “Constantly looking through books.”

2415: Ahmad bin Abi ‘Imran said:
“I was with Abu Ayyub Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Shuja’, and he was staying in his house. So, he sent one of his sons to Abu ‘Abdillah bin al-A’rabi to invite him over.
The boy returned, saying: “I asked him this, and he said to me: “I am with a group, and when I am done being taught by them, I will be over,” and I did not see a single person at his house. Rather, he had in front of him books that he was looking through. He would look in this book for some time, and then look in another book for some time.”
Shortly thereafter, he arrived. So, Abu Ayyub said to him: “O Abu ‘Abdillah! Glory be to Allah, the Mighty! You stayed behind and prevented us from your presence, and my son said that he did not see anyone with you, and that you said you were with a group, and that you would come as soon as you were done being taught by them!”
So, Ibn al-A’rabi said:
We have company who sit with us and do not bore us * Loyal ones who can be trusted while they are present or away;
They benefit us from their knowledge of what happened in the past * And intelligence, manners, and opinions that are correct;
With no fear of conflicts or bad companionship * And one does not fear from their tongue or hand;
So, if you say that they are dead: nay! You are a liar * And if you say they are alive, you are not far from the truth…
Translator’s note: He did not lie, as he was referring to his books as his companions, and this is from the ma’arid (metaphoric speech) that do not count as lies, as was narrated authentically from ‘Imran bin Husayn, ‘Umar bin al-Khattab, and Ibn ‘Abbas.
2416: It was said to Abi al-’Abbas Ahmad bin Yahya (Tha’lab):
“The people have greatly missed you. If only you could leave your house for just a bit and show yourself to the people so that they could benefit from you, and you could benefit from them.”
So, he stayed silent for an hour, and said:
If we accompanied the kings, they would act arrogantly with us * And would belittle the rights of those they were accompanying;
Or if we accompanied the merchants, we would become sorrowful * And would become mere counters of money;
So, we remained in our homes, extracting knowledge * And filling with it the stomachs of these pages…
2419: From what was memorized in the past:
What a great speaker and companion the book is! * You can seclude yourself with it if your friends bore you; It does not reveal your secrets, and is not arrogant * And you can gain from it wisdom and uprightness…
2420: Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Ahmad recited to me:
And the sweetest that a youth can desire after piety * Is knowledge that is beautified for him to seek it; And for every seeker, there is a pleasure that he desires * And the pleasure of the scholar is his books…
2421: And he asked me to add to the above, and I immediately followed up with this in his presence:
The book relieves the concerns of its reader * And when he reads, his exhaustion disappears; What a great companion it is if you seclude yourself with it * You do not fear it plotting against you, or causing commotion…
2424: Abu ‘Amr bin al-’Ala’ said:
“I never entered upon a man or passed by his door – seeing him with a book in his hand, and his companion doing nothing – except that I judged him to be the more intelligent one.”
2425: ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abd al-’Aziz bin ‘Umar bin ‘Abd al-’Aziz said:
“I never saw a better admonisher than the grave, or anything more satisfying than a book, or anything safer than lack of socialization.”
2426: al-Hasan al-Lu’lu’i said:
“Forty years of my life have passed in which I never awoke or went to sleep except that a book was resting on my chest.”

Translated by Abu Sabaayaa

(Taken from

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