By Hikmet Mawi
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, Most Merciful
“Read! Read in the Name of God who created thee…”
We are all aware that the above are the very first revelations Our Beloved, Muhammad (sallalahu aleyhi wa salam) got. They are indeed the foundations to acquiring knowledge and Mercy from Allah (azza wa jal). Today, we’ll have a look at the benefits of busying oneself with reading books. I will also highlight here that reading over the Internet is not the same as reading a book, as some of us may substitute one for the other.
A book is considered to be the greatest “companion” to one. This is highlighted by one of the earliest Arab writer (Al-Jaahiz): ” if the only benefit of a book was that it keeps you from foolish daydreaming and prevents you from frivolity, it would certainly be considered a true friend who has given you a great favor.” Reading books is also known to relieve one of anxiety and grief. (Qt’d from Don’t be Sad) It is certainly true that some people are not so fond of reading, while others find it hard to pick a book when they are overwhelmed with emotions. But on the contrary, what a book does is prevent one from ruminating over the very cause of anger or any other emotion a person is feeling.
Reading, from an Islamic perspective, then is mandatory as the very first Words of Allah were to order the Prophet to Read! So what do some scholars say about it? Al-Hasaan al Lulu’ee said “forty years have passed, and I have not dozed off in the day or in the night…except that a book was resting on my chest.” (Qt’d from Don’t be Sad)
So what things do you enjoy reading? Biography, socio-political, novels, poetry, classical? All are alright to read and will give a person a focus point and inspiration. Habitual reading helps one “develop eloquence and clarity in speech” (Don’t be Sad). Reading has many benefits besides helping one out of ignorance. Reading helps one develop principles and discipline. It is a combat line to idleness and waste of time. As we all know, idleness is one of the greatest signs to be wary of when it comes to faith.
Speaking of principles and discipline it is crucial we highlight that our greatest source is the Qur’an. In fact the Book of Allah is the greatest source of peace and guidance. Allah says in the Qur’an : “[this is the] Book sent down unto you [o’Muhammed], so let not your breast be narrow therefrom, that you warn thereby, and a reminder unto the believers.” (7:2)
It is the opinion of scholars that the Qur’an should be recited consistently and some actually say that it should be read in entirety every month by a believer. So, where are we in this regard?
The Beloved of Allah (sallalahu aleyhi wa salaam) has been reported to have said ” Whoever reads a letter from the Book of Allah, he will have a reward. And that reward will be multiplied by ten. I am not saying ‘alif, lam, meem’ is a letter, rather I am saying that ‘alif’ is a letter, ‘laam’ is a letter and ‘meem’ is a letter.” (reported by al-Tirmidhi and al-Hakim)
Subhan Allah, imagine the reward one will get from reciting the Qur’an so consistently, and add to that the one who has it committed to his/her heart…and every time they read it and their reward just gets being multiplied…(we’re not talking Stock market here!) Reciting the words of Allah brings peace to the reciter and consistency brings sweetness and adds Noor to ones heart.
There are also different avenues we can take up when reading such as Sira, the lives of the Sahaba, the Ahadith, History, Medical and scientific knowledge, classical Arabic poetry (or translated versions of them), contemporary poetry, current issues, nature, languages and the list just keeps adding up as we all have different taste.
So next time you have countless free time, or are bored to death, or can’t fall asleep for no apparent reason, how about take a book and read a few lines instead of turning on the screen. Why have I not mentioned the digital norm of our day, the Internet? Reason is because, unlike a book, the Internet is limitless…it forks and keeps expanding. How many a time have you found yourself browsing through blogs and you just keep clicking, and clicking, and clicking to no end?? Such medias are much appreciated and in today’s digital age, needed, but don’t kid yourself; they don’t help a thing when it comes to learning how to be focused. I don’t mean that a person can’t be focused when using the Internet, but on the contrary my argument is for a free time a person has at their disposal, what the Internet does is keep spreading the focus. Books on the other hand are quite limited to the subject at hand; you can’t click your way out of it.
Verily, with knowledge comes responsibility and as such Allah has honored the people of knowledge. Hence with what we know, or learn we’re going to be held accountable. We’ve heard many a lecture, read many a book, made many a note…thus many an action is what will be left to do. Our responsibility will be to utilize what we already know that we may benefit from it. Hence start today by building a discipline: be more focused.
Allah Knows Best.