The Student of Knowledge and the Books
This is a translation of a small on-line booklet called: “Taalib-ul-‘Ilm wal-Kutub” [The Student of Knowledge and Books] which was originally a lecture delivered by Shaikh Saalih bin ‘Abdil-‘Azeez Aali Shaikh in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and transcribed by a student of knowledge then made available for free on the internet in Arabic.
In this book, the Shaikh discusses seven etiquettes that a Muslim, and in particular a student of knowledge, should abide by with regard to books.
(1) Arranging and Organizing Books
(2) Acquiring the Most Accurate Editions of books
(3) Keeping One’s Books Clean and Tidy
(4) Recording the Points of Benefit found in Books
(5) Lending books Out to Others
(6) Reviewing and Inspecting One’s Books
(7) Preserving and Safeguarding One’s Books
The author has done an excellent job in explaining these general guidelines and points.
Indeed this treatise comes at a crucial time since as the English speaking Muslims in the West increase so does the printed literature that they acquire to learn the fundamentals of their Religion, not to mention those who are able to read and collect books in Arabic. Therefore, such a discussion is necessary to provide guidance and advice on how to acquire, handle, preserve and use these religious books, which are being produced at an ever-increasing rate in recent times.
It is hoped that this e-book in conjunction with the recently launch Classical Knowledge Series publications will provide the English readers with a solid basis on the basics and principles of knowledge in terms of seeking it, acquiring it, teaching it and propagating it.
Excerpts from the Book:
“It is well known that knowledge is acquired via two methods – either, orally by way of hearing and sitting with the people of knowledge and taking knowledge from them through listening with one’s ears or by way of books, and that is through researching, investigating and studying.
The first way is the same method as the second way, whereas the correctness of the second method is based on the first. This is as one of the scholars said: ‘Knowledge used to be in the breasts of men then it transferred into the interior of books. However, its keys remained in the hands of men.’
This means that books possess a high level of importance to the student of knowledge. However, the only ones that can properly deal with these books and correctly understand them are those who establish themselves on the path of studying at the hands of the people of knowledge, mixing with them and comprehending what they meant by the words they recorded in these books.”
“So the first etiquette with regard to books is that one must organize his books in a good manner. Maintaining one’s library in order is an indication of a student of knowledge’s regard for his books.
However, if you visit and are granted access to a person’s library and find that his books are scattered around, in disorder and so on, this is due to ether one of two possibilities.
The books are this way either because
(1) the person researches his books a lot and needs to refer to them, thus causing his books to be scattered about – and even though this is something praiseworthy he should still put them back in their proper places afterward – or
(2) he does not organize his books at all to begin with.”
“This is one of the important etiquettes with regard to books – that you not turn them into storage bins such as by placing pens inside them or treating them like repositories for money and currency. So if you were to open up a book you would find all of these things inside them and notice that the book’s binding has become worn and that the book has changed and so on due to the book not being preserved properly.
A book should also not be turned into a bouquet, i.e. it should not be folded in an inappropriate manner, since a book contains the words of Allaah and the words of the Messenger of Allaah. So it is not proper to treat a book in this manner.”
“Also from the etiquettes related to books is that one should make an effort to care for and reinforce their outer and inner parts as well as to keep them clean so that the books can be in a presentable condition that is befitting for others besides you.
This is since when a student of knowledge buys a book, he must have or should we say it’s preferred for him to have two types of intentions. The first is that he should intend to benefit from it in order to free himself from ignorance.
And secondly, he should intend that others benefit from the book as well – such as either his wife or his children. Afterward, the books can either remain with that person (in his family) or they can be donated after him. Or perhaps one can give them away to someone as a gift or sell them, and so on and so forth.”