‘Ulema on: The Virtue of Reading Books

Please be advised that books here do not refer to the trashy literature out there in the form of ‘Twilight’, ‘Harry Potter’,  and the like. (‘Oh no she didn’t!’) Here books refer to beneficial books which increase person’s knowledge and are not a devil’s snare. I thought I’d be very direct and blunt about it.


Collected by Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr in ‘Jami’ Bayan al-‘Ilm wa Fadlih,’ the chapter titled: ‘The Virtue of Looking Through Books and the Praiseworthiness of Tending to Them’:

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



6 comments on “‘Ulema on: The Virtue of Reading Books

  1. Lol “Oh no she didn’t?” — more like, “You go, girl!”

  2. Walaykumasalam wa rahmatullah ukhti! :)
    I’m on a break from classes, but the work doesn’t stop, alhamdulillah. Just trying to keep myself busy and really trying to focus on the goal of memorizing the Qur’an (please keep me in your du’aas sis). I am sometimes hit with inspirations to blog and visit blogs.
    I think of you often, and I pray that things are going well with you. I like the flavor of this blog, it’s like centered around Arabic and the Qur’an. May Allah swt make this a means of you becoming one of As Saabiqoon and Al Muqarraboon. Ameen!

    • Mashaa’Allah, I’m glad that you’re keeping yourself busy. There’s nothing more pleasing for me to hear than a sister focusing on memorizing the Quraan. May Allah SWT make it easy for you, elevate your status, and grant you companionship of those who love and practice the Quraan and Sunnah.Ameen. Now that you’ve asked me, I will definitely keep you in my duaas inshaa’Allah.

      All’s well alhamdolilah but I need your duaas for I am not happy with my relationship with Allah SWT these days. It’s tragic, really. Anyway, I deeply value that you think of me and may Allah SWT reward you for that. JazakiAllahu khayran for your kind words and beautiful dua…wallahi, there’s nothing more painful than the thought of not being of As-Saabiqoon and Al-Muqarraboon…what is it that we need to do to be such people? May Allah SWT make us sincere for His Deen, make us enter Islam fully and make us amongst those who have achieved His Pleasure way before our death.Ameen.

      I secretly stop by at your blog several times to enlighten myself, enjoy your posts, and leave. Please never ever stop sharing beneficial information. You never know which post becomes a source of Allah SWT’s Pleasure on the Day of Judgement!

      Thank you so much for taking out the time and commenting.
      Many duaas for your success in academics and all aspects of your life and Akhira.

      Wasalamu ‘alaykum warahmatullah,

  3. We must race Umm Sulaym! (I almost called you by your name, then stopped myself alhamdulillah lol)
    This is in answer to what we must do to become as saabiqoon wal muqarraboon
    Race and be consistent and keep asking Allah swt for tawfeeq :)

    And if anyone is ever displeased with their relationship with Allah swt, the first thing they must look at is their salah and their relationship with the Qur’an. Easier said than done? Not always. :)

    Continue to make dua for you, you are in my duas as well. I thougtht to myself last night, I can’t wait until I finally meet you in person. :) If not in this life, then in the next inshaAllah.

    wa billahitawfeeq!

    Love you fillah ukhti,
    ~ommal muqarraboon

    • You’re so cute!
      True. Keep reminding me ya ukhti. I need reminders. :)

      I’ve already asked 2 sisters to make Makkah our meeting point (Hajj), so I ask you as well! If not Makkah, like you said, inshaa’Allahu ta’la Jannatul Firdaus al ‘Ala. If I’m no where to be found (and I seek refuge in Allah SWT from such a fate), you gotta beg Allah SWT to bring me there in light of the following hadith:

      Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri RA: Allah’s messenger SAW said: None
      of your will have argued for his right in the world more vehemently than the
      believers who will do with their Lord about their brethren who were admitted into
      Hell. The Prophet SAW added: They will say: O Lord! Our brethren used to
      offer prayers with us, observe fast with us and perform pilgrimage (Hajj) with us.
      But you cast them into fire. The Prophet SAW further said: Allah will say: Go
      and bring out whoever your know from among them. The Prophet SAW said:
      The believers will come to them and recognize them by face. Some of them will
      be those the fire would have seized up to half of their shanks and some of them
      up to their ankles. They will bring them and say: O Lord! We have taken out
      those for whom you gave us order. Then the Prophet SAW said: Allah will say:
      Bring out whoever has in his heart any belief weighing a Dinar (a coin). Then He
      will say: Take out whoever has in his heart the belief weighing half a Dinar until
      He will say: Take out whoever has in his heart the belief that equals the weight
      of an atom.
      (This Hadith is sound and reported by Nasa’i and Ibn Majah).
      After narrating this Hadith, Abu Sa’id said: He who does not accept it as true
      should read this verse:
      “Verily, Allah forgives not that partners should be set up with Him in worship, but
      He forgives except that (anything else) to whom He pleases, and whoever sets
      up partners with Allah in worship, he has indeed invented a tremendous sin”.

      May for whose sake you love me, love you! Ameen.
      Warmest duaas in this chilly weather,

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