Etiquette Seven: Preserving and Safeguarding One’s Books : Shaikh Saalih bin ‘Abdil-’Azeez Aali Shaikh

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.

So every time someone takes care of his books – whether by binding them or preserving them so that they can last longer in the future – the result of this is that his reward and recompense will be greater for doing that.

From the amazing stories about negligence shown towards books is what was reported by Al-Qiftee, author of the book Inbaa’-ur-Ruwaat, concerning the story about him and the book al-Ansaab of As-Sam’aanee. Perhaps I mentioned it to you before. Al-Qiftee was very enthusiastic for books so much so that he had gathered a collection of books that was from the best of what could be compiled.

He said: “The book al-Ansaab of As-San’aanee in the author’s own handwriting was presented to me, and it consisted of the second, third and fourth volumes, however, the first volume in the author’s handwriting was missing.” Even though there was a span of close to 250 years between the time of Al-Qiftee and that of As-Sam’aanee, he nevertheless purchased the three volumes and said: “So I bought them.”

Then some time had passed during which he would continuously ask people about this book trying to find the first volume. He kept asking about it and getting nothing in reply to the point that he thought the book was missing and that that was the end of it. Perhaps the book written in the author’s handwriting had been borrowed by someone and then went missing or it had gotten lost, and so on.

He went on to say: “Then one day, my servant brought me a parcel of legumes – i.e. a kind of vegetable – wrapped up in pieces of paper that appeared to be originally from a book. So I grabbed the paper before the legumes” – since they had no value to him compared to these pieces of paper – “and when I looked at it, behold it was the handwriting of As-Sam’aanee, which I recognized! I then took it to my copy of the book al-Ansaab and discovered that this page was from the first volume that was missing! So I rushed in haste to the one who was selling the legumes and found that only a few pages from it were still left. So I asked him: ‘Where are the rest of these papers?’ He replied: ‘We wrapped legumes with it and they are dispersed throughout the people’s homes.'” So he said: “Verily, to Allaah we belong and to Him we will return!”

Someone’s loss is another person’s gain! This one is sad because of his loss, while the other is happy because he found these pieces of paper which contain the handwriting of Al-Haafidh As-Sam’aanee that have no value to him and which he instead used to wrap legumes in and give out to people.

So it is said that he, i.e. Al-Qiftee, then spent a month mourning over knowledge and its people and for the book al-Ansaab of As-Sam’aanee.

We wanted to say by relaying this story that one must take special care of his books – whether by way of reinforcing them or by way of preserving them. If one has the pages of a book all over the place then it is easy that the pages will get lost. But if they are preserved and attached to each other, this is the best way to guarantee that they will continue to exist in your library.

The issues related to this subject are many. Perhaps what we mentioned here will serve as a reminder for some of the things that are required with regard to books. I ask Allaah to grant myself and you success, correctness, uprightness and guidance, and may the peace, praises and blessings of Allaah be on our prophet, Muhammad.

[End of the Lecture] 

Taken from : The Student of Knowledge and Books : Shaikh Saalih bin ‘Abdil-’Azeez Aali Shaikh