The Beginning of his Quest for Knowledge
“The first thing that I had a passion to read were Arabic stories, like those of Dhaahir [Baybars] and Antara [ibn Shaddaad a famous Arab poet], King Saif [ibn Dhi Yazan] and their like, then translated crime or detective novels like Arséne Luprin and others. After which I found an inclination towards reading books about history.
Then one day at one of the booksellers, I noticed an issue from a magazine called Al-Manaar amongst the books for sale so I bought it. In it I came across a piece of research written by as-Sayyid Rasheed [Rida] in which he was describing the book Al-Ihyaa by al-Ghazaali, pointing out its strengths and weaknesses.
So for the first time I across this type of knowledge-based critique and that drew me to reading the entire issue. I continued following the subject of Al-Ihyaa in the [book] Al-Ihyaa itself, with the version which contained the hadith verification of al-Haafidh al-Iraaqi, and I found myself having to borrow it since I did not have the money to purchase it.
As a result I started to read [the entire] book since that detailed verification fascinated me such that I resolved to copy out the book or summarise it after I had laid down a mental picture of copying out the [hadith] verification which was printed in the footnotes of Al-Ihyaa. I started to write out the hadith, “Indeed praise for a servant can spread as far and as wide as that which is between the east and the west and yet he is not equal to the weight of a mosquito before Allaah …” this is how it was written in Al-Ihyaa.
Al-Haafidh al-Iraaqi said, “And I have quoted it from him but have not been able to find it with such wording. In the two Sahihs from the hadith of Abu Hurayrah there occurs, “Indeed a huge fat man will come on the Day of Resurrection and he will not weigh the weight of the wing of a mosquito in Allaah’s Sight.”
But what did I do? I wrote down a hyphen and completed the hadith as it is found in the two Sahihs and I continued upon this so as not to attribute to Al-Haafidh al-Iraaqi something that he did not say, and I also placed the addition which I was writing from the original and to which he attributed the hadith, between two hyphens [=]. In those days I was new to researching and if I knew then what I know now I would have used brackets like the ones I used in my books thereafter instead of the two hyphens.
I started to copy and then got half way through the first volume, when an idea occurred to me which was that during my work on the hadiths parts of them would come by me whose words I did not understand and as a result the intending meaning of the hadith would not be clear to me. So I said to myself, ‘Why don’t I explain all of these words in the margins which would be a revision for me and an aid to understanding the hadith?” So after I had gotten half way through the first volume I left it and started copying all over again based upon this new idea.
Every time I came across a hadith which had a word I couldn’t fathom I would use Ibn al-Athir’s book Ghareeb al-Hadith [a book explaining rare and difficult words found in hadiths] and dictionaries and then I would write the meaning in the margin, until the notes that I would write for myself turned out to be more than the actual text, and I carried on like this until I finished the book. I strived like this until a good method was established which helped to make concrete all those new points.
And I think this effort which I put into that study is what encouraged me and endeared to me the desire to continue upon this path, since I found myself seeking the aid of many different works on the Arabic language, figurative speech [بلاغة], and works explaining the rare and difficult words found in hadiths so that the text could be understood alongside its verification.
And this is what benefitted me greatly, and in reality I say: I am amazed at Allaah’s Kindness to His servants, and I feel that Allaah was moving me from one step to the next. Now I reap the benefits of what I used to write and make copies of, [at that time] I did not know what was behind that writing or that copying, now I reap the benefits of some of that work. I will find writings from my early knowledge-based research that is profuse and abundant and that was due to the persistent desire to follow such research and because I found the narrations of hadith to be something beautiful. And I still continue, and all praise is for Allaah, to have the vigour and desire to research, but old age has its rights.”
“Indeed from the blessings of Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, upon me is that he inspired me to name all of my sons as servants of His, and they are: Abdur-Rahmaan, Abdul-Lateef, Abdur-Razzaaq from my first wife, may Allaah have mercy on her; and Abdul-Musowwir, Abdul-Muhaimin and Abdul-A’laa from my other wife, and I don’t think anyone has beaten me to naming their son Abdul-Musowwir since with all of the names of narrators that I have come across in the books of the men of hadith and its conveyors [I never found this name]. And I ask Allaah, the Most High, to increase me in success and that He bless me in my family, “”Our Lord! Bestow on us from our wives and our offspring those who will be the comfort of our eyes, and make us leaders for the pious.” [Furqaan 25:74]
Then in 1383AH [1963CE] while I was in Medina, Allaah blessed me with a son whom I named Muhammad, as a reminder of his, صلى الله عليه وسلم, city and in fulfilment of his saying, “Name yourselves with my name, but do not use my kunyaa.””
[Bukhaari and Muslim]
Giving Precedence to the Truth over the Heritage of the Forefathers
“I continued to follow in the footsteps of my father in this direction, until Allaah guided me to the Sunnah, so I left much of what I had studied with him which he regarded as being a means of getting closer to Allaah and worship.”
Al-Albaani and His Father
“I had proceeded to study the Sunnah with great longing and adoration, and so when my father saw that in me he began to warn me and said, “The science of hadith is the profession of the bankrupt!” But despite what that differing put between us in terms of ideological outlook, near the end of his life we become very close, as he used to say at the end of every debate, ‘I do not deny that you brought me some knowledge based benefits concerning matters about which I was not on clear proof beforehand, like it not being legislated to intend to go to pray salaah at the graves of the righteous.’”
Hayaatul-Allaamah al-Albaani, rahimahullaah, bi qalamihi, pp. 5-10.