Manners a Student Should have with Regards to Building & Maintaining his Library
1 – Organizing the BooksThe student should keep his library organized, such that he can find any book when he needs it. Whether he organizes them by topic (e.g. tafseer, ‘uloomut-tafseer, mustalah, etc.) or some other criteria, the books must be organized in some way. Furthermore, it is best not to place smaller treatises amongst the larger, more voluminous books, lest they become damaged or lost. Rather, the student should collect these smaller treatises into a single book (or notebook) to form a majmoo’ (collection). The treatises within this majmoo’ should also be organized accordingly.
2 – Correctness of the Text
The student should, before purchasing a book, find out which is the most correct printing of the book with regards to the manuscript. This is because many books have various manuscripts, so quite often, publishers and muhaqqiqeen, who have either lack of knowledge or are more interested in business, do not place any emphasis on this. Consequently, many copies of books which are widespread today are based on incorrect manuscripts. So it is upon the student to research this matter and only buy a book a book after he has asked about its various prints and their correctness. Additionally, he should look into the various editions of books so that he won’t be confused by seemingly faulty volume/page references.
3 – Taking Physical Care of the Books
This is due to the content contained within the books – by keeping the books clean and in good condition, the student is honoring what they contain from Shar’ee knowledge. So the student should remove dust and filth from the books, avoid placing them in inappropriate places, and avoid making the book a case for pens, papers, money, etc.
4 – Writing in the Book
The student should write with clear, medium-sized handwriting, since he may not be able to read the small text as his eyesight deteriorates with age. Also, when writing notes on some text in the book, he should start writing next to the line in which the text of importance is contained, and then continue with his notes from the top of the same page. This is done so that there is room for notes on text in the successive lines of the page.
5 – Keeping an Index of Fawaa’id (Benefits)
The student should keep a separate page containing the fawaa’id he observed while studying the book and not rely completely on his memory, even if he is a youth. Perhaps when he returns several years later to a certain book, he will easily be able to recall the various benefits which he obtained without re-reading the book.
6 – Avoid Letting Others Borrow your Books
The shaykh brought some stories indicating that lending out books is disliked by the People of Knowledge. For example, al-Khateeb al-Baghdaadee (d. 468), upon being asked by a student to lend him a book, would only give it to him for 3 days. When the student said that this was not enough time, he said, “If you want to copy the book, then 3 days is enough, and if you want to read it, then 3 days is enough. Otherwise, I am more worthy of my book.”
7 – Not Gathering Books of Which he has no NeedSome people have several copies of the same book for this reason – they bought the book without need for it and consequently forgot that they had it. Then they bought the book again, forgot again, bought it again, etc. So the student should incrementally gather books as needed in order to avoid this.
8 – Giving the Book Away if he has no Need for it
If, for some reason, the student no longer needs a book, it is best for him to give it to someone who does need it. This is a righteous action on his part by which the Muslims benefit.
9 – Taking Care of the Book’s Outer Appearance
This is done with the intention that others (family members, etc) may want to benefit from the books. There are two intentions that a student should have in gathering books:
(a) To use them to remove ignorance from himself, and
(b) To benefit others with them. This point addresses the second of the two intentions.
And Allaah knows best.
Shaykh Saaleh bin ‘Abdil-‘Azeez Aalish-ShaykhTaken From “Taalibul-‘Ilm, wal-Kutub.”