I found myself standing amidst shelves and shelves of priceless treasures-words of wisdom penned hundreds of years ago by blessed men who worked by the flames of oil lamps in the late hours of the night; recording whatever they knew, preserving it for me and you. Their references were the Quran and Sunnah, their role model was the Prophet, and their aim was Allah’s pleasure. Their unwavering dedication, deeply rooted knowledge, and sincere intentions shine through their monumental works until this day and age.
I awoke from my thoughts realizing that time was limited. A friend and I had just walked over to the new bookstore, AlMaktaba AlAsadiyya, in Northern Aziziyah, Makkah. Fearing for our lives, we dared to cross the busy 4-lane road with 6-way traffic speeding in all directions. No pedestrian walkway, no zebra crossings or walk signals; you just barge on to the street and hope the next speeding car doesn’t hit you. Yup, totally KSA style. Stepping into the bookstore, we stared in awe at the hundreds of classical texts lining the aisles and immediately forgot all the fears and hurdles we faced on our way (including the honking taxi drivers).
I pulled out my book wish list which I had been writing for the past few months, but I could barely think straight. There was so much I wanted but which books were more essential? Which ones would I use now and which could be put off for later? I quickly rang up Umm Saifullah for suggestions on what to get and she sure set me straight. I knew I could always count on her :). So I hung up the phone and my friend and I got to work. We dodged through the aisles, grabbing anything on the list and whatever caught our attention.
We even snuck in to the staff room to get a sneak peek of everything in stock. Good thing the workers were too busy to notice. One book I was on the lookout for was Mufradat Alfadh ALQuran By Shaikh Raghib Alasfahani- a dictionary of Quranic terms. Ever since my UQU professor recommended it to me a year ago, I had searched every bookstore for it, but in vain. This time I wasn’t going to leave empty-handed! I sent my brother to one of the workers to ask where I could find it, and he casually pulled it off the shelf he was leaning on. I could barely contain my excitement as I traced the gold colored title with my fingers. I felt like I found a long lost friend. Book enthusiasts will relate.
A nudge from my sister reminded me that I had only had an hour left until Iftar. I decided it was time to narrow down the huge pile of books I was walking around with; and I had to make some tough decisions. A concise pocket-size version of Sahih Muslim or Sahih Bukhari? Both so equally tempting, I was forced to close my eyes and choose randomly. Sahih Muslim will have to go on my next wish list inshallah. Eventually, my sister dragged me to the checkout counter and I ended up grabbing a few more books from there too. I left the store with a sense of accomplishment and also a lurking feeling of forgetting something. Whatever it was probably wasn’t important enough.
We crossed the main road once again, but this time it felt easier, even though I had 7 heavy books hanging from my arm. As we reached the other side sighing with relief, I suddenly realized that I forgot my shopping bag of Eid gifts at the bookstore. No turning back now, but I guess I will be returning to the store sooner than I thought!
اللهم علمنا ما ينفعنا و انفعنا بما علمتنا و زدنا علما
اللهم يا معلم سليمان علمني و يا مفهم سليمان فهمني
– The Sahara Bloggers (Niqabinja)