Don't Be Sad By Aaidh ibn Abdullah al-Qarni
Your best companion is a book
An activity that brings about joy is for you to read a book and develop your mind through the acquisition of knowledge.
Al-Jaahiz, an Arab writer from centuries ago, advised one to repel anxiety through the reading of books:
"The book is a companion that does not praise you and does not entice you to evil. It is a friend that does not bore you, and it is a neighbour that causes you no harm.
It is an acquaintance that desires not to extract from you favours through flattery, and it does not deceive you with duplicity and lies.
When you are poring through the pages of a book, your senses are stimulated and your intellect sharpens...
Through reading the biographies of others, you gain an appreciation of common people while learning the ways of kings.
It can even be said that you sometimes learn from the pages of a book in a month, that which you do not learn from the tongues of men in a century.
All this benefit, yet no loss in wealth and no need to stand at the door of the teacher who is waiting for his fees or to learn from someone who is lower than you in manners.
The book obeys you by night as it does by day, both when you are travelling and when you are at home.
A book is not impaired by sleep nor does it tire in the late hours of the night. It is the teacher who is there for you whenever you are in need of it, and it is the teacher who, if you refuse to give to it, does not refuse to give to you.
If you abandon it, it does not decrease in obedience. And when all turn against you, showing you enmity, it remains by your side.
As long as you are remotely attached to a book, it suffices you from having to keep company with those that are idle.
It prevents you from sitting on your doorstep and watching those who pass by.
It saves you from mixing with those that are frivolous in their character, foul in their speech, and woeful in their ignorance.
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 favour."
Sayings that deal with the virtues of books
Abu `Ubaydah said:
"Al-Muhallab gave his son the following advice: `O' son, do not linger in the marketplace unless you are visiting the maker of armor or the book vendor.'
Al-Hasan 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." Ibn al-Jahm said:
"If I feel drowsy when it is time to sleep - and wasteful is the sleep that exceeds one's needs - I take up a book from the books of wisdom and I find bliss in coming across a pearl (of wisdom).... I am more alert when I am happily engaged in reading and learning than I am when I hear the braying of the donkey or the shrill noise of something breaking."
He also said:
"If I find a book to be agreeable and enjoyable and if I deem it to be beneficial_ you will see me hour after hour checking how many pages are left, from fear of being close to the end. And if it is many volumes with a great number of pages, my life and my happiness are complete."
And the best, highest, and worthiest of books is:
[This is the] Book [the Qur'an] sent down unto you [O' Muhammad], so let not your breast be narrow there from, that you warn thereby, and a reminder unto the believers. (Qur'an 7: 2)
The benefits of reading
1. Reading repels anxiety and grief.
2. While busy reading, one is prevented from delving into falsehood.
3. Habitual reading makes one too busy to keep company with the idle and the inactive.
4. By reading often, one develops eloquence and clarity in speech.
5. Reading helps to develop the mind and purify its thoughts.
6. Reading increases one in knowledge and improves both memory and understanding.
7. By reading, one benefits from the experiences of others: the wisdom of the wise and the understanding of scholars.
8. By reading often, one develops the ability to both acquire and process knowledge and to learn about the different fields of knowledge and their applications to life.
9. One's faith will increase when one reads beneficial books, especially books written by practicing Muslim writers. The book is the best giver of sermons and it has a forceful effect in guiding one towards goodness and away from evil.
10. Reading helps to relax one's mind from distraction and to save one's time from being wasted.
11. By reading often, one gain a mastery over many words and learns the different constructions of sentences; moreover, one improves his ability to grasp concepts and to understand what is written `between the lines.'
"Nourishment of the soul is in concepts and meanings, And not in food and drink.”
Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot
The smallest bookstore still contains more ideas of worth than have been presented in the entire history of television. ~Andrew Ross
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